Climatic Change, Its Likely Impact on Potato ( Solanum tuberosum L.) Production in Kenya and Plausible Coping Measures
D.O. Nyamongo Nyamongo2
1 Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization. Horticulture Research Institute (KALRO)-Tigoni, P.O Box 338 Limuru 00217, Kenya
2 Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization. Genetic Resources Research Institute. P. O. Box 30148 00100, Nairobi, Kenya
3 Agricultural Development Corporation. P.O. Box 366 Molo, Kenya
International Journal of Horticulture, 2017, Vol. 7, No. 14 doi: 10.5376/ijh.2017.07.0014
Received: 01 Jun., 2017 Accepted: 10 Jun., 2017 Published: 06 Jul., 2017
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Preferred citation for this article:
Muthoni J., Nyamongo D.O., and Mbiyu M., 2017, Climatic change, its likely impact on potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) production in Kenya and plausible coping measures , International Journal of Horticulture, 7(14): 115-123 (doi: 10.5376/ijh.2017.07.0014)
Potato is a cool season crop and plays an important role in Kenya’s economy. The crop is mostly grown under rain-fed conditions. However, most parts of Kenya are warming up in line with global trends and, information on how climate change will impact on potato production is presently lacking. An analysis of the literature in this area shows that changes in climate will lead to shifts in areas suitable for potato production, reduced yields and poorer quality of tubers for processing while demand for potato irrigation is also expected to increase. Distribution of pests (e.g. aphids, potato tuber moth and leaf miners) and diseases (e.g. late blight, bacterial wilt and viruses) are expected to increase since high temperatures allow more cycles of multiplication leading to greater pressure of pests and diseases. Seed potato produced under high vector pressure may degenerate fast due to viral infections. To remain competitive, the potato industry needs to embrace innovative strategies in adapting to climate change. New varieties adapted to extreme weather conditions (heat and drought tolerant) and possessing other desirable traits such as short dormancy, early maturity, pest resistance and/or tolerance will need to be developed. Investments will be required in irrigation infrastructure and in improved storage for both seed and ware potatoes since higher temperatures will most likely make it difficult to keep both seed and ware potatoes from season to season. Agronomic technologies that conserve soil moisture and lower soil temperatures will need to be adopted.
Climate change; Potato production; Kenya