By Bahati Abdallah, a member of staff at Pwani University and a PhD student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya
I am one of the beneficiaries of the Nuffic NICHE-KEN-212 project. My PhD covers the screening of sweet potato for drought tolerance in coastal Kenya. The research was done both on the farm and at the station. The at-station trials were conducted on the Pwani University experimental farm, while the farm trials were conducted on various farm fields in the region.
DROUGHT TOLERANCE SWEET POTATO
Drought tolerance of sweet potato clones was sourced from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO, check the website) Muguga in Nairobi. These were then multiplied to obtain enough planting materials for the research. Some of the tests at the station were done under a structure to keep out rain and were irrigated using drip lines.
Both the farm and station trials were completed in the year 2019. Two manuscripts are ready for publication in peer-reviewed journals. The thesis writing is at an advanced stage and I am hoping to defend it before the end of 2020.
WORK IN PROGRESS
The project team members in charge of sweet potato are in the process of forming a WhatsApp group with sweet potato farmers in the region. This will assist in information sharing of better methods of production of the crop. This will in turn improve the production of the crop, which is both a food security crop and a supplementary staple for the cereals. The team also plans to multiplicate and disseminate sweet potato plant material to farmers in the region at the onset of the planting season.
SOME KEY ACHIEVEMENTS
Some of the achievements include:
- Training of Pwani University staff on both short- and long-term courses
- Purchase of various equipment for both research and teaching purposes
- Training of farmers and high school students on best farming practices
I wish to sincerely thank the project for funding my studies!