Kenya Sugar Research Foundation (Kesref) has launched faster maturing cane to boost production.

The new seeds will mature within 14 to 15 months, as opposed to the current ones which took more than 18 months to yield.

Sugarcane plantation. The new seeds will mature within 14 to 15 months. PHOTO: TITUS MUNALA / STANDARD

The varieties are KEN 82-121, KEN 82-493 and KEN 82-601.

On Thursday, Kenya Sugar Board (KSB) Chief Executive Offcer Rosemary Mkok disclosed the move was aimed at improving sector performance.

She was speaking while touring Kesref offices in Kisumu accompanied by Agriculture Assistant Minister Gedion Ndambuki.

Kesref principal research scientist JE Jamoza asid they had come up with the new varieties after years of intense research.

Dr Jamoza said in 2002, they developed varieties, KEN 82-216, KEN 82-219, KEN 82-247, KEN 82-401, KEN 82-808 and KEN 83-737, which still took more than 18 months to mature.

In 2007, they came up with yet new varieties KEN 82-62, KEN 82-472, EAK 73-335 and D8484, but preliminary tests found the seeds take long to germinate.

More research

Consequently, this forced them back to the research laboratories and field to dig deeper into suitable seed cane.

Kesref board chairman Simeon Mkalla, Kesref Director Chrispin Omondi, and the board were elated to unveil the new seed cane varieties to farmers.

Mkalla said since inception in 2001, the ministry has supported Kesref in achieving its mandate of generating and promoting demand driven agricultural sugar processing.

This had been made possible through technologies and innovations for enhancing productivity, value addition, and competitiveness of the sugar industry.

He disclosed that for the last 10 years, Kesref has registered remarkable growth in its human resource, physical facilities, research and development.

Mkalla expressed hope that with the construction of new Kesref laboratories and offices bound to cost Sh634 million, their services would increase for farmers good.

“My board is grateful to the Kenya sugar board which provided the initial funds of Sh250 million and the state capital of Sh177 million in the last three years,’’ he disclosed.

The expenditure on the project today stands at Sh480 million, while the new project is bound to cost Sh800 million when complete.

He, however, said they still lacked Sh320 million to ensure complete facelift of the vital sugar research station.

But it emerged that Kesref had received Sh84 million from the European Union under the sugar reform support project.

Of the amount, Sh44 million will be used to procure equipment for the new laboratories, while the balance will address seed cane initiatives and extension.

By Kepher Otieno, The Standard

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