Nderitu, J. H., Chemyror, H., Wacira, ( 92020). TECHNICAL REPORT – KINANGOP DEMO PLOTS Figure: The CEO, NPCK inspecting the Kinangop demo plots, on the background are Field Instructors and the local potato farmers. Page | 2 Purpose/objective of the demon

FARMERS FIELD DAYS AND TRAININGS HELD ON 23RD JULY 2020 AND 20TH AUGUST 2020 IN NYANDARUA COUNTY

Conducted by NPCK in partnership with University of Nairobi, KALRO and other partners

Farm Field Days and Trainings in Nyandarua County
In effort to continue supporting potato farmers improve potato productivity through adoption of good agricultural practices and better technologies, NPCK and partners organized potato fielddemonstrations and trainings in Nyandarua County on 23rd July and 20th August 2020. The planning of the activities started in the month of April 2020 with the Council partnering with ADC Molo, Agrico EA, CIP, Corteva Agriscience, Cropnuts, Yara East Africa and County Gov’t. Two demo sites were set in Nyandarua County, hosted by Gitwe Rurii SHG and Green silver Cooperative. Gitwe Rurii is based in Kinangop sub-county, Gathara ward, Gathima village with a membership of 52 potato farmers while Green silver cooperative is based in Olkalou sub-county, Mirangine ward, Mugurata village with a membership of 132 potato farmers.
It is important to note that the planting of the demo plots and trainings were conducted during the Covid-19 crises period hence the team had to ensure that the preventive measures provided by the ministry of health were observed. These included avoiding overcrowding, wearing face masks in public, maintain 1.5 meters apart and frequent hand washing or sanitizing.
a) Objective
The objective of setting-up the demos was to showcase the benefits of adopting high yielding varieties, high quality planting materials, recommended inputs and good crop management practices in potato production. The initiative was also able to demonstrate to farmers the value of using good inputs and practices in form of increased tuber quality, yield and return on investment. The demo plots were also used to showcase to farmers various technologies and innovations required to boost their productivity and income levels.
b) Technologies showcased and role of partners
i. Site selection and soil testing services
The site selection for the demos was carefully chosen based on previous crop planted, run-off water, land topography and nature of the soil. After site selection, Cropnuts took charge in soil sampling and soil testing for potato cysts nematode, pathogen tests and complete soil analysis and provide recommendations that were considered. Cropnuts also advised partners about the suitability of each of the sites, especially bacterial wilt and PCN-free plots. They also offered trainings to farmers on importance of soil testing, soil sampling methods, soil testing process and interpretation of soil testing results.
ii. Use of quality seeds and of improved Varieties
Potato yields are affected by several factors. The quality seed is a very important factor. Agrico E.A and ADC Molo provided certified seeds required for the demo sites considering suitable varieties for the locations. The varieties provided were Markies, Destiny, Manitou, Shangi, Sherekea, Dutch robjin, and Rudolph. They also trained farmers on importance of using quality seeds, improved potato varieties as well as demonstrating well sprouted tubers for planting, planting process and good crop management practices.

iii. Crop protection
In order to achieve good yields, crop protection against pests and disease is important. The common pests affecting potato are potato tuber moth, whiteflies, cutworms, and red spider mites while bacterial wilt and late and early blights are the common diseases in potato production. To manage these pests and diseases, Corteva agriscience provided crop protection products for the demos and also they ensured proper crop application and timely. Corteva field agronomists trained farmers and partners on appropriate stages and timelines for application of crop protection products for effective pest and disease control. Furthermore, they demonstrated good spraying regimes through the Spray Service Providers (SSPs) trained by Agrochemical Association of Kenya (AAK).

iv. Crop nutrition
Proper application of crop specific fertilizer essential in ensuring improved crop yield. Yara E.A participated in this initiative by providing recommended fertilizer for potato planting and topdressing. Yara agronomists in the regions also offered a series of trainings to farmers on recommended fertilizer for potato, timely and good fertilizer application practices and recommended quantities for good yields.
v. Apical Rooted Cuttings Technologies
Apical rooted cutting is seed production technology proven to be fast and efficient in seed multiplication process. Apical rooted cuttings are similar to a nursery-grown seedling except that they are produced through vegetative means and does not originate from a seed. They are produced from tissue culture plantlets in the screen house, rather than minituber, and after rooting; they are planted in the field for seed bulking process. International Potato Center (CIP) provided the apical rooted cuttings for the demos and also trained farmers on apical rooted cuttings technology for seed production.
c) Design of the farm demonstration sites
The demonstration set-up was based on two aspects;
i. Farmer practice: Farmers to apply the fertilizers that they have been using before. Most farmers applied DAP, NPK 17:17:17, and CAN.
ii. Yara program for the recommended practice: YaraMila Power 150 kg/Acre at planting, YaraMila Winner 100 kg/Acre at tuber initiation + YaraVita Crop Boost 2 L/Acre, YaraLiva Nitrabor 100 kg/Acre at tuber bulking +YaraVita Crop Boost 2 L/Acre will be used.
The farm trial management and treatments were based on the following;
i. Farmer practice + farmer seed source: 100% managed by the farmer
ii. Intervention I : recommended practice (Yara fertilizer + Corteva crop protection products + Cropnuts on soil testing services) + Shangi certified seed from ADC Molo
iii. Intervention II: recommended practice (Yara fertilizer + Corteva crop protection products + Cropnuts on soil testing services) + Agrico seeds
iv. Intervention III: recommended practice (Yara fertilizer + Corteva crop protection products + Cropnuts on soil testing services) + Apical rooted cuttings

At each site, a ½ acre plot was divided into four (4) to accommodate all treatments, leaving enough space as pathway/walk way for training days, visitors and exhibitions.
Each treatment covered an area of 40.5 m x 10.5 m = 425.25 m2. A block had 40.5 m (i.e. 54 rows with 75 cm spacing) by 10.5 m (i.e. 35 plants with 30 cm spacing). Refer to figure 1 for more details. Each treatment plot took 1890 seeds/cuttings based on plant spacing of 75 cm x 30 cm.

Fig. 1: layout for each treatment

d) Farmers trainings
The farmer’s field days and trainings were conducted on 23rdJuly 2020 and 20th August 2020 in Kinangop and Olkalou demo sites respectively. Taking into consideration the current world pandemic, NPCK, partners local authorities made arrangements of ensuring that all precaution measures were observed and no individual farmer gets exposed to risks of contracting the virus during training. Body temperature checks were conducted, farmers sanitized and issued with face mask at the entrance point. In addition farmers were also being reminded more often to avoid overcrowding. During the trainings the following were considered;
i) Farmers were trained in sessions; three training sessions each took one and a half hours
ii) Each training session had between 15 and 25 farmers to avoid overcrowding
iii) Each sessions had to sub-sessions;
- Demo site visits and trainings and
- Short speeches by the key speakers.
A total of 99 farmers were trained during the field days. Farmers acknowledged various technologies, such as apical cuttings, recommended fertilizer for potato, proper crop protection and spraying regimes, importance of soil testing, high yield varieties suitable for processing among others. The partners involved also managed to interact with farmers, leant challenges they face, shared experience and market their product and services. The farmer trainings and practical demonstration on farmer’s fields helps influence farmer’s mindsets hence improve adoption of new ways of farming for better yields.
e) Presentations by the key speakers during the field days
Considering the current Covid-19 pandemic and its preventive measures, key speakers were limited to only three speakers each taking a maximum of 10 minutes to give speech. The following are the key speakers and their key notes.
i. Local Authority
Area chiefs represented the government authority during the field days. They gave welcoming remarks and urged farmers to continue farming as well as observing Covid-19 preventive measures provide by the government. They also appreciated NPCK and partners for bringing such initiative to the farmer’s doorsteps, enabling them to learn practically.
ii. County Agricultural Officer
Mr. Joseph Njogu and Ms. Miriam Mwangi crop officers from Kinangop and Olkalou respectively represented the County ministry of agriculture in the respective field days. During their speeches they encourage farmers to adopt good agricultural practices, spray services provision and adoption of new technologies like apical cuttings. They also assured farmers and partners of their support in such initiatives.
iii. NPCK CEO
Mr. Wachira Kaguongo the CEO NPCK addressed the farmers during the field days. On his speech, he gave brief introduction of NPCK, acknowledged the partners involved on the demos and the support from the County. He further described the demos design and the objectives. He mentioned about the Viazi soko digital platform upgrade and the support it will offer to the farmers once finalized and launched at the counties in October.

f) Acknowledgement
NPCK highly acknowledges the University of Nairobi through the Kenya National Research Fund Project (NRF) for the financial support to undertake this fundamental initiative. We look forward for further collaboration in the coming days.

UoN Websites Search