A group of eight people comprising of five TAGDev students, seed potato CARP principal investigator and two of his assistants joined Likia (Kiahiti B), Elburgon (Kapsita), Turi (Giteru) and Kasambara (Gilgil) farmers’ groups between 26th April to 2nd May 2018 to plant seed potato demo plots. The objectives of the exercise were to learn with the farmers on good agricultural practices on seed potato planting and mastering of seed potato planting practices. The demo plots will be used as model farms for the seed potato community action research project (CARP+SPVC) project.
Farmers demonstrated teamwork and the groups managed to plant two plots at each site, comprising of Jelly and Shangi potato varieties. An officer from ADC in charge of seed potato at Mau joined the team for further training and guidance on seed potato planting practices. He demonstrated to farmers the required spacing between plant and rows highlighting the importance of it. The recommended spacing is 21-25cm by 75cm between plants and rows respectively. This spacing gives room for tuber expansion to yield many tubers of relatively small size preferred for seed potato. The planting fertilizer was Baraka fertilizer produced in Kenya by Toyota Tsusho fertilizer Africa limited. The fertilizer is specially formulated for potato planting.
The principal investigator displayed various agrochemicals required in the entire season of seed potato. They included herbicide, fungicides and pesticides. He insisted on the importance of scouting early in the morning and evening since most pests attack crops at that time. He also encouraged farmers to be using preventive fungicides, which are relatively cheap compared to curative fungicides. Emthane, a product of Amiran Kenya is one of the preventive fungicide containing mancolax as its active ingredient. Revus is a curative fungicide by Syngenta, which is very expensive a litre costs USD 180.
Despite the accomplishment of the exercise, various challenges were encountered in the farm. Most of the group members are small-scale farmers owning small pieces of land. This made it difficult to find a farm that had not been planted with potatoes for 4 years. One of the demo plot at Likia group was set in a farm that had previously been planted with potatoes posing a great risk to bacterial wilt attack. Potato will be produced under this section for comparison purpose only. Another challenge faced was that the farmers had little knowledge on seed potato growing and management practices as well as requirements by Kenya plant health inspectorate service (KEPHIS).
Demo plot planting at first site was successful with the students and farmers learning a lot about seed potato planting. The farmers saw the need of clean seed potato in Likia for increasing their income and potato productivity, therefore, they vowed to support seed potato community action research project (CARP). They also agreed that seed potato is a lucrative business compared to ware potato farming. However, they need trainings on seed potato growing and management practices for proper management of their seed potato farms

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