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Economy

NYS, Prisons to produce potato seeds

The government has rolled out a project that will see the Prisons Department and the National Youth Service
The government has rolled out a project that will see the Prisons Department and the National Youth Service (NYS) take active part in potato production. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The government has rolled out a project that will see the Prisons Department and the National Youth Service (NYS) take active part in potato production.

It involves deploying 30,000 inmates and 50,000 NYS servicemen and women to scale up potato seed production.

Kenya has favourable weather and skills but potato imports have been rising as demand also goes up.

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and his Public Service counterpart, Margaret Kobia, recently launched the potato initiative, starting with a seed production centre at the 350-acre Tumaini NYS station in Nyandarua County.

Among the benefits envisaged are feeding thousands of inmates and NYS recruits.

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According to the National Potato Council of Kenya, only 160,000 hectares are under the crop, 83 percent of this by small-scale farmers.

The new project targets raising production from 275 metric tonnes to 4,390 by raising certified seeds production from three percent to 10 percent of demand by next year.

Some of the hindrances to potato production is lack of quality seeds.

Zeinab Hussein, the Correctional Services principal secretary said potato has been chosen because it is Kenya’s second largest staple food after maize.

Patrick Kariri, the head of farming enterprises at the Prisons department, said the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate and Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation are involved in the potato project.

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