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New pest likely to hit Uganda's Irish potatoes

Staff Writer |
There is a new pest that is likely to hit Irish potato gardens in Uganda with researchers worried it could wipe out a huge amount of produce.

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Researchers at the National Agricultural Research Organisation say the pest, which is suspected to have come from Kenya, could have entered into some farms although they could not confirm how far it has reached.

Imelda Kashaija, the deputy director, incharge of Agricultural Technology and Promotions at National Agricultural Research Organisation (Naro) said farmers should desist from importing Irish potato tubers and seedlings from Kenya.

“We have heard cases where potato farmers from different regions are getting seedlings from Kenya, especially farmers from the eastern part of the country in towns like Mbale, and Sebei sub-region. This should stop because one can end up killing the whole crop,” she said.

Known as potato cyst nematode (PCN), botanically known as globodera rostociensis or globodera pallida, the pest has been quarantined by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in countries where it is spotted.

Kashaija explained that Naro learnt about the outbreak from Kenyan counterparts. She said surveys will be made in potato-growing areas to find out how widespread the pest is in the country.

FAO puts Uganda as the third largest producer of potatoes in East Africa after Rwanda and Kenya.

Between 2010 and 2o14, the area covered by Irish potatoes increased from 36,000 hectares to 39,000, according to the 2015 Statistical Abstract from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

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