The Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) is among the many types of nematodes. Nematodes are very small, slender, eel-shaped, worm-like organisms. PCN forms survival structures called cysts. PCN is primarily a potato pest which results in patches of poor growth in a field, yellowing (chlorosis) and wilting particularly under moisture stress. PCN comprise of two species: Globodera rosotchiensis and G. pallida. However in Kenya, only Globodera rosotchiensis has been detected. It was first detected and confirmed in Nyandarua County in 2015. Continuous cultivation of potatoes on PCN infested land can be devastating and lead to crop loss of up to 80%.
Different institutions in the potato sector in the country have been looking at ways of managing the pest. It is in this regard that NPCK and partners organized for a PCN workshop on 1st March in order for various organization, researchers and academia to interact and share new found knowledge on PCN including how to manage it.
Presenters included representatives from Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), Kenya Agriculture Livestock and Research Organization (KALRO), Bayer Cropscience, Syngenta Foundation, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and The National Potato Council of Kenya.
Permanent Secretary, State Department for Crop Development & Agricultural Research, Prof. Hamadi Boga was the chief guest of the event and addressed the participants via zoom. He emphasized the importance of the crop in the country and revealed that the government is mobilizing more resources in to the potato sector. He pointed out that the government had set aside Five hundred million shillings for development of the potato sector. He also mentioned that the president had authorized the construction of three potato cold stores which will help reduce post-harvest losses in the country.
From the presentation, it was impressive to learn that there have been positive strides made in research and that our knowledge about PCN is deeper than before. There was a four point intervention mechanism that the workshop brought forth to combat PCN menace.
- Creating awareness and scaling up PCN interventions through research and collaboration.
- Bridging the PCN information asymmetry gap in the subsector through channels such as Viazi Soko Digital platform, workshops and publishing of catalogues and fliers on the subject.
- Promote the currently available practical ways of managing PCN
- Policy level management of PCN through
- Building capacity/ National PCN strategy
- Training and awareness creation
- Mandatory zero tolerance on seeds/pests availability
- Screening materials for resistance to PCN molecular/ clear management practices.
- Valuable non-host crop rotation in along rotational programme
- Reduce short rotational programs among others
The workshop was sponsored by Bayer Agriscience and Syngenta Foundation