Elgeyo Marakwet County government has flagged off potato seeds to be distributed to farmer groups in 14 potato producing wards.
The 300 bags superior pre- basic and C2 seeds given to the farmers is an initiative aimed at enabling county farmer groups to generate their own seeds for future seasons.
Speaking in Iten, Agriculture Chief Officer, Timothy Kiptum said that the shangi variety had been certified by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) and that every measure had been taken to ensure they did not have any diseases.
He said the seed shall be distributed through the Elgeyo Marakwet potato cooperative society in order to reach all the targeted farmers.
“As a county, we are encouraging our farmers to join cooperatives and take advantage of economies of scale as well as extension services from the county. Going forward this is the model we shall work with,” said Kiptum.
While flagging of the consignment, county secretary Paul Chemutut appreciated the role of Agriculture Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) in partnership with the county in the promotion of high value crops in the county.
“By supporting our farmers to produce their own seeds, we will ensure that in the near future, we shall be seed sufficient and will not have to import seed from other counties,” he said.
Chemutut disclosed that that the county is in the process of setting up a potato seed multiplication centre at Chebara Agricultural Training Centre through support from the World Bank.
The ASDSP coordinator Jane Tallam noted that as part of the seed multiplication plan, the farmer groups had set aside one acre each in the 14 wards to ensure that the potato seeds are available for future seasons.
“The second generation C2 we have brought seeds are for the purposes of training the farmers on best practices in potato growing,” she said.
Tallam said the objective of the initiative is to reduce costs that go into outsourcing seeds which she said as expensive and posed risk to disease importation.
“Sometimes the seeds become scarce and hence our motive to become self-sufficient as a county,” added Tallam.