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Are you growing right potatoes for right use?

By Malaika Chunji

 

Dear Editor,

I have an idle land in Kinangop, Nyandarua County. I’m told the region is famous for potato production. I want to try my hand in farming but before investing my money in it, I need to know more about the different potato seeds, the period they take to mature and which ones do best in areas such as where my farm is.

Wa Kimani, Nairobi.

Dear Reader,

Potato is the second most important food crop, after maize in Kenya, cultivated by over 800,000 smallholder growers as production is currently estimated to be worth Sh50 billion. Notably, about 35,000 hectares of Irish potatoes are grown annually in Kenya.

Getting the right seeds is key in potato farming as diseases are the biggest headache for farmers and affect yields.

Here is a list of potato varieties produced in Kenya by seed potato variety producers Kalro, Agrico East Africa, International Potato Centre (CIP), Bioplant GmbH, Africalla among others.

1. Roslin Eburu (B53)

This variety was released in 1953 by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Institute (Kalro). It is recommended for growing in areas of between 2,000 and 2,800 (altitude). It takes between 4-4.8 months to mature.

2. Kenya Baraka

It was released in 1973 by Kalro. It is recommended for growing in areas of between 1,600 and 2,700 (altitude). It takes between 2.6-4 months to maturity. It is fairly tolerant to drought and good storage quality.

3. Dutch Robijn

It was released in 1960s by Kalro. It is recommended for growing in areas of between 1,600 and 2,600 (altitude). It takes between 4-5 months.

4. Kerr’s Pink

It was released in 1960s by Kalro. It is recommended for growing in areas of between 1,400 and 2,700 (altitude). It takes between 2-3 months to maturity. It is tolerant to drought, good mashing and roasting quality.

5. Anett

It was released in 1972 by Kalro. It is recommended for growing in areas of between 1,400 and 2,400 (altitude). It takes between 2.5-3 months to maturity. It is fairly tolerant to late blight disease.

6. Desiree

It was released in 1972 by Kalro. It is recommended for growing in areas of between 1,800 and 2,600 (altitude). It takes between 4-4.8 months to maturity. It has a good storage advantage.

7. Asante

It was released in 1988 by Kalro. It is recommended for growing in areas of between 1,800 and 2,600 (altitude). It takes between 2-3 months to maturity. It has good chipping, boiling & mashing quality, fairly tolerant to late blight.

8. Kenya Mpya

It was released in 2010 by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Institute (Kalro). It is recommended for growing in areas of between 1400 and 3000(altitude). It takes between 3.0-3.5 months to maturity. It has Oval /round tubers, early tuberisation, large size tubers, cream-white skin colour with pink eyes, shallow eye depth, cream-white flesh colour, resistant to late blight.

9.Sherekea

It was released in 2010 by Kalro. It is recommended for growing in areas of between 1,800 and 3,000 (altitude). It takes between 3.5-4.0 months to maturity. It has oblong/round tubers, high number of tubers per plant, red skin colour, medium eye depth, cream flesh colour, highly resistant to late blight and viruses, good storability, intermediate dormancy, good for the table, crisp and mashing.

10. Purple Gold

It was released in 2010 by Kalro. It is recommended for growing in areas of between 1,800 and 3,000 (altitude). It takes between 4.0-4.5 months to maturity. It has round tubers, dark purple skin colour, shallow eye depth, white flesh colour, moderately resistant to late blight, good storability/resistant to greening, high tuber uniformity (80 per cent), long dormancy, very good crisping qualities, also good for the table, mashing and roasting.

11. Arizona

It was released in 2013 by Agrico East Africa Ltd. It takes 3-3.5 months to maturity. It has yellow skin, flesh colour yellow, tuber shape oval, dry matter content 17.2 per cent.

12. Sarpo Mira

This was released in 2014 by Africalla. It takes four months to mature. It has good resistance to late blight in foliage and drought tolerance.

13. Shangi

It was released in 2015 by Kalro. It takes 3-4 months to mature, short dormancy, fast cooking, versatile use i.e. can be used for domestic consumption and processing into chips and crisps.

14. Rudolph

It was released in 2013 by Agrico East Africa Ltd. It takes 4 months to mature. Its skin is red and flesh colour is white.

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