Potato has emerged as one of the key staple crops in Kenya and second most important crop in the country after maize. The potato value chain employs over 3.5M actors, contributing over Ksh.50 Billion to the economy. Despite its important use by many Kenyans, its production still faces a lot of challenges hence low production. Access to certified and good quality potato planting materials has remained a challenge to most potato growers. The potato seed producing companies cannot meet the seed demand by farmers.
Apical cuttings are rooted transplants produced in a screen house from tissue culture plantlets. Rather than allowing tissue culture plantlets to mature and produce minitubers, cuttings are produced from the plantlets. Once rooted, the cuttings are transplanted into the field to produce seed tubers.
Cuttings are an alternative to minitubers in current production seed systems for potato and have some advantages over mini tubers. Cuttings produce more seed tubers than minitubers. They also take a shorter period to be ready for sale. This is because they require only two seasons of multiplication unlike the seeds produced from minitubers which requires 3-4 seasons of multiplication before one can sell the seed tubers.
In order to create knowledge about the cuttings technology and encourage its uptake, NPCK and other partners have set up a demonstration plot in Nyandarua County to showcase to farmers. It is a business opportunity for youths along the potato value chain to venture into.
Apical root cuttings in a screen house, Nyandarua.