FARMERS’ TRAINING ON APICAL CUTTINGS
Certified seed potato production in the country does not meet the current demand. Only less than 4% of the required quantity is produced and supplied. The current seed systems rely on production of minitubers from tissue culture plants in a screen house followed by three to four seasons of multiplication in the field to generate certified seeds.
As part of addressing the shortage, apical cuttings technology, which constitutes a rapid seed multiplication method, is seen as a promising alternative. However, there is a misconception that the apical cuttings are planted directly and in turn ware potato is harvested.
In practice, the cuttings must first undergo further multiplications in order to get seed potato which can in turn be planted for ware potato production.
Cuttings have a high productivity and it is economical to sell seeds from it after two to three seasons of multiplications compared to the certified seeds that is normally sold after four seasons of multiplication. Through this approach, farmers have access to earlier generation seed thus the harvested tubers can be multiplied on-farm for a few seasons without significant seed degeneration as long as good agricultural practices are followed. According to International Potato Centre (CIP) the above attributes make seed systems based on cuttings compatible with seed saving smallholder farming systems.
It is for this reason that NPCK in conjunction with Farm Inputs Promotions-Africa LTD (FIPS) organized farmers for training on apical cuttings in Timau, Buuri west sub-county, Meru County. The training took place on 29th July 2019 with selected 14 farmers in attendance. The farmers were taken through; nursery bed preparation, making of rows within the nursery, inter- row spacing, removal of cuttings from trays and transplanting them on the nursery bed. A total of 200 cuttings of Unica potato variety were used. The demo was done on a 6M by 8M plot of land. The group will now have one member utilize the technology and multiply seeds on behalf of the rest.
On the left a famer preparing nursery bed during the training while on the right are the 200 cuttings of unica variety used for the demonstration.
GIZ supports Mechanization Service Providers (MSPs) Training
MSPs learning how to calibrate a potato ridger
Maintenance of mechanisation equipment is fundamental in mechanization business operation. Proper machinery use and care maximizes the work-days and the lifespan of the machinery by reducing the incidences of breakdowns which can result in costly downtime. It is very important that power-matched implements are used effectively, efficiently and kept properly maintained on a regular basis.
Intensive training on part inspection and servicing at Tabor Hill
Most Mechanization Service Providers (MSPs) have limited skills and exposure to tractorization especially he modern machines and latest equipment beyond the plough. They also have limited knowledge on equipment adjustments, calibration for optimal operations, applications and safe use of the equipment. New farming methods have since come into play, necessitating the need for training MSPs including those that have been in the operational business for long. Apart from operational performance of machinery and equipment, most MSPs do not keep records. Records provide the overall performance of the mechanization service provision through availing data of machine use,
tracking equipment performance and routine maintenance schedules. During the month of August 2019, GIZ -Nutrition Sensitive Potato Partnership Project(NuSePPP), Agrimech Africa Ltd and AMS Nyandarua County trained a team of 25 MSPs/ Tractor operators on theoretical background of tractor and implement use for different crop and livestock mechanization applications, principles and practice of specialized tractor. The training also provided practical lessons on implement parts (such as engine and engine parts, batteries, power train- transmission, hydraulics, tyres and tracks, bearings, PTOs and knotters), tractor-implement calibration, servicing, routine maintenance and safe-use of machinery among other topics.
The content was relevant to the trainees’ day-to-day operations and some of them testified to have unknowingly mishandled their tractors for a long time and were grateful for the training. They promised to apply the knowledge and skills gained in their operations and requested for follow-ups and refresher courses in the near future.