Farmers at ATC Njabini being trained on a simple hand-held decision support tool.

 The International Potato Center held a farmer’s field day at ATC Njabini Nyandarua county to introduce to and train farmers on the use of a simple handheld decision support tool that integrates improved potato varieties to control late blight disease. The tool’s main components are susceptibility and resistance of the variety of interest to late blight, weather factor, number of spray days and the decision factor. The use of the tool is categorical to potato varieties in terms of susceptible, moderately susceptible and resistant variety. It shows the specific day of evaluation for the next spray of fungicide for each category for example 7, 11 and 5 days respectively. Depending on the weather information (rain and number of rainy days or no rain) the farmer and the number of spray days since the last evaluation, the farmer is able to arrive at a decision of whether to spray contact or systemic fungicide on the crop or not spray at all.

 The International Potato Center had established demo trials at ATC Njabini where two different potato varieties had been planted, (Shangi and Sherekea) to evaluate the effectiveness of the tool. Full late blight control treatments were sprayed on a weekly basis while HH-DST treatments were guided by the tool. These were compared to no late blight control treatments. The number of sprays was reduced by 33-67% with HH-DST compared to full late blight control resulting in cost reduction by 38-53%. CIP, NPCK and Plant Village officers participated in training the farmers who turned up in large numbers on the same.

The technology is quite simple and effective in the control of late blight disease with advantages such as a reduced number of sprays hence saving money and time in terms of labor and fungicide cost. However, the tool will undergo some modification before it’s officially released.

Other partners in attendance were: the County government of Nakuru and Nyandarua, Syngenta, Fresh crop, Grace rock farm, Plant village, and ATC Njabini.

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