New potato varieties introduced to combat potato cyst nematode

Must Read

How To Block Your Bank Account And SIM Card In Case Of Emergency

Losing your phone and wallet or having them stolen can be very frustrating. However, in case that happens to...

Ibadan-Born Billionaire, Harry Akande is dead

Harry Ayoade Akande has died at the age of 77. He died on Saturday morning of an undisclosed ‘brief...

List of Access Bank Sort Codes & Branches (with addresses) in Nigeria

The sort code is a number which usually identifies both the bank and the branch where an account is...
- Advertisement -

Scientists from NemAfrica, the nematology unit at CGIAR-IITA, and the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) are currently assessing new potato varieties that are resistant to the potato cyst nematode (PCN) pest. These damaging pests significantly reduce yields and tuber sizes and consequently impact farmers’ income and food security in Kenya and the broader East African region. Researchers discovered them only recently as a new threat to potato in the area.

New potato varieties introduced to combat potato cyst nematode Brandspurng
A display of potato tubers harvested from the trial plots for physical evaluation by farmers. | www.brandspurng.com

The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) received eight new lines of potato in March 2020, subsequently certifying them for preliminary planting and testing under Kenyan agroecological conditions. The scientists sourced the planting materials from the renowned James Hutton Institute (JHI) in Scotland, from crosses made using parents with the H1 gene, which confers resistance to PCN, and the Phureja potato, which have highly desired taste and cooking qualities.

IITA Soil Health Scientist Danny Coyne, who has been leading efforts to assess these new lines, says that besides their resistance to PCN, they selected the specific sequences based on additional attributes vis à vis farmer growing preferences in Kenya.

New potato varieties introduced to combat potato cyst nematode Brandspurng
Farmers in Nyandarua, Central Kenya, tasting cooked potatoes from the new lines. | www.brandspurng.com

- Advertisement -

“We identified early maturing lines that have a short dormancy, which are key characteristics of Shangi, the most popular variety currently being grown by farmers, as well as being high yielding compared to the current local varieties,” says Coyne.

Scientists developed the lines as part of a breeding program for use in the UK. The researchers selected them for trials in Kenya because of their low dormancy, which Kenyan farmers prefer. Prof. John Jones (JHI), a PCN expert, had recently visited IITA and icipe to help identify the PCN and recognized that these lines might be useful, as they resembled Shangi.

Innovate UK, a UK Government innovation agency, provided funding to facilitate the procurement, processing, and assessment of the new lines. IITA staff, in cooperation with KEPHIS, established contained field trials to test the performance of the new lines under varying levels of PCN infestation, alongside the local variety Shangi.

George Ngundo, a plant health inspector at KEPHIS, called the introduction of the new PCN resistant varieties a welcome development toward fighting the PCN scourge on potato farmers. He pointed out that the varieties will be the first of their kind in Kenya as the country does not have PCN resistant varieties within the seed system.

- Advertisement -

Jesse Kamutu, a potato seed and tuber producer from Kinangop in Nyandarua County, who assisted with the trials, echoed those sentiments. “Farmers in our area have been abandoning
potato farming for other crops,” he says. “This is due to decreasing yields and poor quality of tubers;” he continues, “we did not (even) know why until we were shown the PCN pest.” PCN is a minute microscopic worm that feeds on and damages the potato roots. PCN is among the most damaging pests of potato, and because they are new and unseen, farmers did not associate PCN with the decreasing potato yields.

Read Also:  UACN To Liquidate Warm Spring Waters Nigeria Limited

The local Shangi variety, commonly planted by farmers across Kenya and some parts of East Africa, has no resistance against PCN and is being ravaged by the pest. Authorities estimate that the pest has reduced potato productivity in the region by more than 40%, digging deeper into farmers’ income. From the field trials, the new lines far outperformed Shangi in overall yield, within a maturity period desirable to the farmer.

Read Also:  Average Price Of 1kg Of Yam Tuber Decreased By 5.18% In November – NBS

IITA Postgraduate, Harrison Mburu, who is finalizing his master’s study at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), is directing the field trials and is very impressed with the outcome from the introductory planting in high altitude areas in Kenya. His master’s study has demonstrated the damage caused by PCN and the need for PCN-resistant varieties that farmers like. Resistant varieties that are similar to Shangi, therefore, would be a good start, he said.

In late August, the IITA team organized a visual and taste test with farmers in Munyaka and Gathara areas of Kinangop. Farmers judged the different tubers on display without knowing which were the new lines. Based on texture, shape, the taste of cooked potato as French fries/chips, mashed and boiled, and the amount of time it takes to cook, the farmers’ responses will help the team to select the most preferred lines to multiply and develop into planting varieties.

- Advertisement -

However, initial interest from these tasting events has already stimulated excitement, with some farmers showing a preference for the new lines and offering their farms to multiply the seeds at large scale.

According to Dr Solveig Haukeland, Nematologist (icipe), identifying a new variety that is resistant to PCN, early maturing, gives a good yield, and is highly regarded on the market will change the fortunes of potato farmers in the region. The team is currently assessing the lines for resistance to other diseases in Kenya.

- Advertisement -
New potato varieties introduced to combat potato cyst nematode - Brand SpurNew potato varieties introduced to combat potato cyst nematode - Brand Spur

Subscribe to BrandSpur Ng

Subscribe for latest updates. Signup to best of brands and business news, informed analysis and opinions among others that can propel you, your business or brand to greater heights.

- Advertisement -

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

New potato varieties introduced to combat potato cyst nematode - Brand SpurNew potato varieties introduced to combat potato cyst nematode - Brand Spur

Latest News

Ibadan-Born Billionaire, Harry Akande is dead

Harry Ayoade Akande has died at the age of 77. He died on Saturday morning of an undisclosed ‘brief...

NSE ASI Revs by 0.72% on Insurance, Oil/Gas Stocks

In line with our expectations, investors in the equities market remained bullish, especially on insurance and oil & gas stocks. Hence, the All-Share Index...

Red Hat Releases 2021 Global Tech Outlook Survey

For the fifth consecutive year, Red Hat has released its annual Global Tech Outlook. This survey of IT leaders covers the top IT challenges and funding...

Net Inflow Worth N281.10 billion via OMO Create Liquidity Ease.

In the just concluded week, CBN refinanced only N60 billion of the N341.10 billion treasury bills which matured via the Open Market Operation (OMO)....

Naira Gains against the USD at BDC, Black Markets amid New Forex Policy…

In the just concluded week, Naira gained against the USD at the Bureau De Change (BDC) and parallel (“black”) markets by 4.12% and 4.04%...
- Advertisement -
BrandsPur Weekly Cartoons
- Advertisement -New potato varieties introduced to combat potato cyst nematode - Brand SpurNew potato varieties introduced to combat potato cyst nematode - Brand Spur