Africa

Aphids infest potato crops in Kenya

We reported here on Potato News Today two days ago that potato farmers in Kenya are badly hit by a seed crisis. It now turns out that an important potato region of the country is also suffering from an infestation of aphids that cause serious problems for potato growers in that country.

According to a report by Digital Standard, potato farmers in Kuresoi sub-county are asking for support from the State as aphids infesting their crops are causing serious crop losses.

The bug that has become commonplace on farms in the region, is feeding on the newly planted potato tubers as well as potatoes ready for harvest.The attack from the bugs, which causes the whole plant to wither, has raised concerns of food insecurity in the county. Potato farming is a major economic activity in Kuresoi and the entire Nakuru County.

David Juma a farmer from Sirikwa, is among those who planted the crop in early February. The entire crop has been infested by aphids. Mr Juma said efforts to spray them with chemicals purchased from local chemical companies have not proven successful.

“I opted to plant potatoes recently. But unfortunately, aphids have fed on the tubers making germination impossible,” said Juma. According to Juma, when aphids attack, they not only affect the quantity of potatoes that will be produced. They will also affect the quality of the produce.

Juma was expecting to harvest 70 bags of potatoes on his 20-acre piece of land. He only managed 10 bags. Poor quality of the produce has also affected prices. A 110 kilogram sack of potatoes is retailing for only Sh3,000. The normal price is Sh5,000.

He is among farmers who sell their produce to Tanzania since there are good market prices there. But the bad quality of his crop has turned away Tanzanian consumers.

County Director for Agriculture Grace Kirui said officers have been sent to the area to handle the situation.

Source: Digital Standard