Tomato farmers in Kenya have received a major boost following the launch of a new tomato variety that is resistant to bacterial wilt.
The Seminis Tomato Ansal, a hybrid variety, was first introduced to farmers late last year after a one-year period of on-station trials and off-station demonstrations plots with select farmers in Kirinyaga, Loitokitok and Nyanza.
The new variety by Bayer East Africa, a subsidiary of Bayer Global, is also high yielding with 5-8 fruits per cluster and has a three-week shelf life after harvest. The Ansal F1 hybrid tomato besides being resistant to bacterial wilt, the firm said, is also resistant to tomato mosaic virus, verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt and root-knot nematodes.
Bacterial wilt is a soil and waterborne disease caused by bacteria Ralstonia solanacearum which normally destroys 100 per cent of tomatoes. The disease can survive for up to 40 years in water, which explains its high incidence in regions where river and lake water is heavily relied on for irrigation by tomato farmers.
“Following extensive trials with farmers, we can confirm that the new variety is the answer to bacterial wilt in tomatoes. It is a great seed variety that will save the farmer huge costs in pesticides in fighting the disease,” said Bayer East Africa Commercial Lead - Vegetables Elizabeth Mranda.
Speaking during the recent launch in Kirinyaga County, Ms Mranda said research showed that farmers lose between 50 and 100 per cent of their crop due to bacterial wilt.
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