Scottish seed exporters set to increase tonnage to Kenya

GB seed growing in Kenya
GB seed growing in Kenya. Photo: AHDB.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has been playing a part in building trust among growers in countries which have agreed bilateral agreements with the Scottish government such as recent official seed trials in Kenya conducted with Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA).

Ten varieties have been sent for trialling, four free varieties – Atlantic, Cara, Hermes and Russet Burbank – and six commercial varieties provided by the James Hutton Institute. The varieties selected are processing varieties that are expected to thrive in hot, dry conditions.

Most farmers in Kenya (95%) use poor quality home saved seed, which yield as little as ten tonnes of potatoes per hectare. The GB seed currently being trialled will not only be healthier but should produce 40–50 tonnes of potatoes per hectare.

SASA’s Export Liaison Officer, Jackie Gibson, said so far the GB seed planted in Kenya is healthy and growing well. She said: “We sent more than 1,200 tubers per variety, 400 of which underwent laboratory testing for soft rots; they passed with flying colours. The Syngenta Foundation have been a great partner, helping us identify farms to work with and 400 tubers per variety were planted on three farms in late April/early May.

AHDB’s Exports team will have engaged with nine countries via inward and outward trade missions and fact-finding visits by the end of the year April 2017 to March 2018. The work is designed to help British exporters find opportunities in a rapidly changing world.

This November AHDB will be undertaking a technical visit to Kenya to observe their funded seed trials and discuss performance of GB varieties in Kenya and develop closer links with Kenyan Potato Council and seed importers.