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County adopts tissue culture in potato seed production

Nyeri farmers will now have access to affordable tissue culture potato cuttings after the county government started production of apical tissue cuttings, at the Wambugu Farm Agricultural Training Centre.

Wambugu ATC farm manager John Wambugu explained the tissue cuttings are similar to nursery-grown seedlings except that they are produced through vegetative means and do not originate from a seed.

“The cuttings are produced from tissue culture plants in the greenhouse, rather than tubers, and after they produce the roots, they can be planted in the field,” Wambugu explained.

He said that each cutting produces seven to 15 tubers which are further multiplied for one or two seasons then sold as seeds to farmers.

“These cuttings multiply rapidly and potatoes produced per plant are also more compared to tuber seedlings,” he noted.

He explained the apical cuttings were procured from the Kenya Agricultural Research Livestock Organisation (KARLO) in Tigoni where they were assured of the best quality seed.

“Transporting the seed cuttings is more economical because they are stored in trays and you can use one truck to carry thousands of seedlings,” he noted.

Wambugu who is also the ATC resident agronomist, said the apical cuttings are more desirable as a source of disease-free seed and have no degeneration of genes; hence quality of tubers is assured.

“Genetically these cuttings produce high quality crops with high survival rate,” he noted.

High standards of plant hygiene must be maintained to ensure the cuttings are not affected by pest and diseases, especially during transplanting them, from the green house and from the research facility.

“We had to ensure the vehicle transporting the cuttings is clean and the area where you plant the fresh cuttings has been sprayed,” Wambugu explained.

This year the county distributed 80 tonnes of certified seeds of Irish potatoes to farmers for planting. This is expected to benefit 240 farmers.

The farmers are expected to produce 640 tonnes of potatoes when the plants mature.

In 2019, a total of 45 tonnes of certified potato seeds were issued to various farmers’ groups and co-operatives societies and distributed to 650 farmers.


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