Participants during the PCN workshop held at Boma Hotel Kenya

Potato is an important staple food crop, with high nutritive value. Over 2.5 million Kenyans directly depend on the potato value chain for livelihood. The crop generates about $500 million per annum hence a crop of economic importance. The yield of potatoes in Kenya is 9–10 t/ha, which is below the potential of 20–40 t/ha. This is brought about by the use of low-quality seeds, poor production practices, poor environmental and climatic factors, and improper handling and storage. In addition, the emergence of diseases like Potato Cyst Nematodes significantly reduces potato yields.

Potato cyst nematode (PCN) was reported in Kenya in 2015 and is a new threat in potato production. PCN feeds on the roots causing stunted growth, delayed flowering, yellowing of leaves, wilting, and death of the crop. A single cyst contains over 100 nematode eggs which can remain viable in the soil for over 20 years. PCN is threatening potato production globally hence a call for a regional approach in its management.

A consultative workshop was held at the Boma hotel in Kenya to discuss a regional approach that can be employed to manage PCN. The workshop drew participants from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi, Ethiopia, Lesotho, South Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The institutions represented were NPCK, ICIPE, IITA, FAO-SFE, NPPOs, and MOALFC.

The participants agreed on the regional approach to use in the management of PCN. The resource mobilization process is ongoing to drive the PCN management efforts. Follow-up meetings will also be done for purposes of brainstorming.


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