The county government of West Pokot has distributed 20 tonnes of certified potato seed to farmers in Lelan, Siyoi and Tapach wards to help them up their yields boost.
During its launch at the county headquarters, the county secretary Dr. Mike Parklea said that West Pokot will continue to focus on food security which is aligned to the Big ‘four’ Agenda. Dr. Parklea stated that the county is mainly targeting farmers who cannot afford to purchase the seeds.
“Our main focus as a county is food security. We want to put an end to reliance on food aid. Providing farm inputs to farmers in our county is part of our strategy.” Stated Dr. Parklea.
He added that the county has made considerable progress in availing high yielding, market oriented varieties that farmers can take advantage to satisfy market requirements.
Francis Kitelauyan- Ag. CEC Agriculture urged farmers to shift to agribusiness as it is one of the most effective ways to improve livelihoods. He said the Agriculture department will continue to support farmers with farm inputs as the county seeks to transform livelihoods through agriculture.
“Most of the potato farmers in the county have been planting inferior seeds, which is mainly leftovers from their harvests, and because of this, the yields have been very poor in terms of quality and quantity,” said CEC Kitelauyan.
According to a 2014 study by Hussein Shimelis and Rob Melis for the University of KwaZulu-Natal on potato farming systems and production constrains in Kenya, lack of clean planting materials among farmers in Kenya forces farmers to plant seeds from local markets, neighbours or farm-saved.
These seeds are of poor quality and always speed up the spread of seed-borne diseases such as bacterial wilt which can affect about 77 per cent of potato farms in the country.