Damage on a potato inflicted by the potato tuber moth
Photograph by Silvia I. Rondon, Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Oregon State University.
Potato pest infestation is one of the main reason for high yield potato losses occurring in the field and during storage. In trying to manage this situation, potato farmers have resorted to use of pesticides. However, there is a knowledge gap among farmers on how and which pesticide to apply and their efforts normally end up in vain as the pests prevail. Also, misuse of these chemicals poses a great danger to the environment, humans and beneficial organisms. Cost of inputs like agro-chemicals and labour is also increasing. Land size is declining thus challenging crop rotation protocol which is being advocated as a management strategy to reduce infestation by most potato pests. There is therefore a need to understand some of these pests in the field and establish better control methods.
It is for this reason that the NPCK in partnership with the University of Nairobi through the KCSAP project conducted a field survey that helped in providing an understanding of potato pest of economic importance in Nyandarua County. The survey established the level of infestation in the county, stages at which the crop is affected, the extent of pest damage to potatoes at different stages and established pest management measures used by farmers in the county. The understanding of potato pests in the county will help in determining the best pest management approach and establishment of validation trials with two farmer groups as field demonstration.
The rapid appraisal was informal and targeted farmers in Kinangop and Olkalou sub-counties as representatives from the County Ministry of Agriculture. It was conducted in between 28th September and 2nd October 2020. The pests under scrutiny in the survey included; Potato Tuber Moth, Cut worm, Red spider mite and Whiteflies.