PlantVillage sets up cassava experimental plots in seven counties in Kenya
The PlantVillage team in Kenya has embarked on collecting data from the 70 cassava experimental plots set up in seven counties as the organization scales up its efforts towards solving the hunger and famine crisis plaguing sub-Saharan Africa.
The team leased five acres in each county in April as part of a research project to explore innovative approaches to increasing cassava production, a crop that is both climate-smart and essential to food security.
The project, which was initiated by 25 PlantVillage Dream Team extension and research officers in Kenya, is the brainchild of Edward Amoah, Winnie Onyango, and Daisy Osoro, who are advancing their studies in finding solutions to the climate change crisis at Penn State University.
The activity to set up the experimental projects, which cost $15,000, was concluded on Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Kilifi County in the coastal region after successful launches in Bungoma, Busia, Siaya, Migori, Baringo, and Homabay counties in the western Kenya region.
The team marked and divided each experimental field using hoes, pegs, and ropes into plots and then dug holes for planting using augers before planting the cassava cuttings, which were of different varieties depending on the soil and climatic conditions of a particular county.
In Bungoma County, for example, the team planted the MM96 and Mijeria varieties in 10 fields across Kanduyi, Kimilili, and Bumula sub-counties.
"Production in the selected plots will be boosted by the technology we advocate for, such as the use of the PlantVilage Nuru application in diagnosing crop diseases and pests and biochar in soil rejuvenation," said Sally Jemo, the lead of the project in Bungoma County.
Some of the cuttings were planted with biochar, an important component in the research that is being tested as a fertilizer alternative to growing cassava.
The project details and its findings will be published once the research is concluded in a year’s time.