Ministry pleads more funding into clean potato seed production unit

Ministry of Public Service and Gender Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary Rachel Shebesh addresses the media when she toured the aeroponics technology potato seeds production unit at the Tumaini National Youth Service, Nyandarua County.

The Ministry of Public Service and Gender Affairs has appealed for more funding into the clean potato seeds production unit at the Tumaini National Youth Service, Nyandarua County to help spur production.

According to the Ministry’s Chief Administrative Secretary Rachel Shebesh, the demand for disease free potato seeds had gone up with the unit unable to meet demand.

The CAS noted that the project that uses aeroponics technology which involves the use of cultured plantlets had been able to increase its production by four per cent since its establishment a year ago hence need for more support.

“When you have demand for something, as a government that is what we need to hear so that we know when we inject money we are sure that the market is there and that it will also help our farmers.

Am calling upon Members of Parliament that when you start the next budget making process, support for more finance to come into this project as it will go a long way in boosting production of certified potato seeds and help in realisation of President Uhuru Kenyatta ‘Big Four’ agenda in the food security sector,” added Shebesh when she toured the project on Saturday.

She at the same time called on County administrations practicing potato production to consider forming a good working relationship with the unit to boost local potato production.

Commanding officer at Tumaini NYS, Kennedy Nyakang’o noted that use of certified seeds will see farmers reap big as one certified tuber has a capability of producing 16 tuber unlike a recycled which produces 3 – 6 tubers when planted.

“If the project is expanded, by the next two years we will be able to produce certified seeds for more farmers across the country,” he said.

Nyakang’o said that the expansion of the unit from the current three greenhouses will see more farmers benefit as demand among counties and individual farmers was high.

Nyandarua Deputy Governor Celilia Mbuthia regretted that potato farmers in the county have been grappling with lack of certified seeds and are forced to recycle those from past harvests.

“Nyandarua County is the number one producer of potatoes in the country with 33 per cent and the one challenge we have had is access to certified seed.

In the whole country we have a gap of 95 percent of certified seeds hence making this a critical project to address the gap,” she said.

Nyandarua County Women Representative Faith Gitau attributed poor potato production to low yields as the seeds are often diseased and poor agronomic practices.

Gitau noted that her office through the National Affirmative Action Fund will move in to help farmers access clean planting potato seeds.