Brief agricultural news from around the country - Daily Nation

Firm feted for support to the flower industry

Friday June 9 2017

Elgon Kenya Ltd fraternity led by their managing director, Bimal Kantaria celebrate after winning their Supplier Non-perishable Award.

Elgon Kenya Ltd fraternity led by their managing director, Bimal Kantaria celebrate after winning their Supplier Non-perishable Award at the concluded Sixth International Flower Trade and Expo (IFTEX) held in Nairobi. PHOTO | LEOPOLD OBI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By SEEDS OF GOLD TEAM
More by this Author

A regional farm input seller has been honoured with the Supplier Non-perishable Award at the Sixth International Flower Trade and Expo (IFTEX) held in Nairobi this week.

Elgon Kenya has been consistently supplying fertiliser and farm chemicals to flowers growers for close to 100 years across five African countries.

Bimal Kantaria, the company’s director, said besides Kenya, they also supply farm products to Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia and Ethiopia.

“Initially, we began supplying the fertiliser to Oserian and Sulmak, which later became Karuturi. We have tremendously grown as the flower industry grows,” said Kantaria, adding that they have been supplying the Ethiopian flower industry with fertilisers and farm chemicals for the last 10 years.

He, however, pointed out that the government involvement in subsiding fertiliser has disrupted the market.

“It may be a good thing for smallholder farmers because they are getting the farm inputs at lower costs but it discourages the private sector input since we also have to lower prices to sell at the cost of subsidised fertilisers, which is not profitable,” said Kantaria.

Nelson Maina, Elgon Kenya’s Public Relations and Marketing manager, said the award is an honour to the firm for its unwavering support to the local floriculture industry.

“We will continue to unveil new products as we ensure we meet our clients’ needs,” he said.

The flower industry has a long chain of stakeholders from breeders to propagators and then the growers.

“As propagators, our work is to acquire cultivars from breeders and then propagate for the farmer. This depends on what the farmer wants, “says Andrew Ndung’u of Stokman Rozen Kenya ltd, flower propagators.

By Leopold Obi

****

Kalro develops new high yielding sweet potato varieties

Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) centre in Njoro, Nakuru has come up with five new varieties of sweet potatoes, developed in five years .

The potatoes were developed to grow in various climates, including in lower Eastern and Baringo.

Plant biochemist John Ndung’u said the most exciting characteristic of the new varieties not found in the common variety is the presence of high values of iron and beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A produced in the body.

The five are named Kenspot 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 from the name Kenya sweet potato.

“The biggest challenge was finding a variety that would not be soggy once cooked and one that would be resistant to the sweet potato weevil. Currently, one notices holes in the sweet potatoes that make them bitter when eaten. That is the effect of the lava of the pest,” Mr Ndung’u explained.

The basis of breeding is to ensure the farmer gets a lot of yield and all the positive aspects are incorporated into the plant.

“The clean seeds were placed in screen houses where the vines grew long enough and developed nodes that were cut and transplanted.”

Depending on the levels of carotene, the colour of the flesh in each variety of the sweet potato is different.

Kenspot-1 is yellow, 3, 4 and 5 are orange while kenspot-2 is yellow/white meaning it has the least levels of carotene.

The variance was intentional to satisfy the market needs.

By Reitz Mureithi and Magdalene Wanja`