Report on the 5th Seed Potato Production and Certification Course held at KEPHIS Headquarters, Nairobi

Report on the 5th Seed Potato Production and Certification Course held at KEPHIS Headquarters, Nairobi

Participants of the 5th Seed Potato Production and Certification Course, at KEPHIS Headquarters, Nairobi

KEPHIS Headquarters, Nairobi - KEPHIS in collaboration with the Centre of Phytosanitary Excellence (COPE) held the 5th Seed Potato Production and Certification Course this year. The course’s broad objective was to strengthen capacity in implementing viable potato seed supply systems to enhance potato value chains thus contribute to nutrition and food security. At the official opening, KEPHIS MD Dr. Esther Kimani urged the participants to invest in production of certified seed as it fetches great opportunities and profits. She also clarified that certified seed did not have bacterial wilt, black leg, nematodes or any other diseases that could damage soil or reduce productivity in the farm. She advised participants to understand the expertise needed in the production of potato seed, the systems that have

GM Quality Assurance Mr. Simeon Kibet said that over the last five years, KEPHIS has released 46 new varieties of potato, 10 of which are for processing.  He also added that in line with the Big 4 Agenda, potato has been identified as one of the focus crops for nutrition and food security. He urged the trainees to adopt technologies such as hydroponics and stem cutting for potato production.
Dr. Moses Nyongesa, the Centre Director Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) said that they partner with KEPHIS in two major areas:  variety development and release and breeder seed. He noted that a major problem facing the potato industry in Kenya is the shortage of supply in seed. He said that they were aiming at increasing collaboration with upcoming seed entrepreneurs in the private sector. In order to bring about capacity building, he said that KALRO was looking forward to hosting a hands--on training for seed producers. Dr. Japheth Jamoza, representing the Director General KALRO, added that some of the constraints facing the potato industry are: inadequate supply of certified seed, attack by pests and diseases, post-harvest losses and inadequate value addition on potato products.

Dr. Japheth Jamoza explaining some of the challenges facing the potato seed industry during the 5th Seed Potato Production and Certification Course held at KEPHIS Headquarters, Nairobi 

Dr. Samuel Bundotich representing the Agricultural Development Corporation MD said that the demand for potato is on a steady increase due to the switch of consumer preference from wheat to potato. He added that they are focused on empowering farmers to invest in the potato industry since it offers many job opportunities especially for seed producers and merchants.

Dr. Samuel Bundotich explaining the importance of the potato industry in Kenya during the 5th Seed Potato Production and Certification Course held at KEPHIS Headquarters, Nairobi

Ms. Susan Otieno from KALRO took the participants through the major fungal and viral diseases of potatoes and the management options. She listed some of the fungal diseases as: Late blight, Early blight, Black scurf and Dry rot. Viral diseases include: Potato Leaf Roll Virus (PLRV), Potato Virus Y (PVY), Potato Virus X (PVX) and Potato Virus A (PVA). Some of the management options discussed are use of healthy certified seed, crop rotation with non- solanaceous crops such as maize, use of registered pesticides and fungicides, use of clean and disinfected tools and equipment, early harvesting of seed crop, field and store hygiene sanitation and rogueing of diseased plants and removing any newly formed tubers of those plants.

KEPHIS seed inspector, Mr. Jacob Cheptaiwa, took the trainees through the importance of potato seed certification. “Seed certification is an official process of ensuring that seed potatoes that farmers buy for planting meet the minimum quality standards. It is our responsibility to inspect all registered seed potato crops in the field, at the handling and storage facilities in the laboratory” he said. He stated that seed certification assures farmers of trueness to type of the variety and health status of the seed, and that the use of certified seed together with application of proper agricultural practices will create sustainable potato production that ensures high potato yields of high quality.

The group later visited KEPHIS Plant Quarantine and Biosafety Station (PQBS), Muguga where they toured the laboratories to gain more knowledge on potato tissue culture; KALRO Tigoni where they visited potato seed storage facilities ; Kisima Farm in Timau to visit a potato seed field and lastly to Suera, Nyahururu for a tour of a private potato crop storage facility.


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