- The project is expected to benefit 30,000 farmers across the country
- The first phase of the project is targeting potato-rich regions in the country including Nyandarua, Nakuru, Elgeyo Marakwet and Nyeri.
- A ‘Potato Consortium’ has been launched in Kenya to help smallholder farmers increase yields and reduce post-harvest losses by 50 per cent in the next two years.
The initiative by KFC Kenya has brought together specific partners including Co-operative Bank, Yara and Bayer East Africa to help farmers address key gaps including agronomy, commercial and digital knowledge and access to finance.
The project, which is expected to benefit over 30,000 farmers across the country, is coming a year after food giant KFC sparked widespread public outrage when reports indicated that they sourced potatoes from out of the country despite local farmers struggling to offload their produce in the market.
The incident sparked a nationwide debate on how local farmers can improve the quality and quantity of their yields to avert importation
“That potato for consumption by Kenyans had to be imported was a major surprise amidst the perennial woe and cry by Kenyan potato farmers, especially in the potato-glut zone of Nyandarua of lack of market for their produce,’’ potato consortium’s comment read in part.
According to the consortium, the project brings all matters potatoes, to ensure the value chain right from the quality of the seed to the farmer financing and eventually to the food plate is consistent with the highest quality standards.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), potato is among the top five foods in the country, planted on approximately 450,000 acres of potato planted per year.
The average productivity from studies conducted is three acres, making it a loss-making venture for farmers; industries within the potato value chain have growth limitations.
“However, with the joint efforts of the partners in the consortium, the productivity can improve to 14 tonnes per acre, with this contributing to food security and through consistent supply of potato, industries can grow”.
The partners within the consortium have developed modular solutions that will help farmers increase potato yields through the use of appropriate input.
For instance, while Yara will provide crop nutrition and soil testing solutions, Bayer to offer fertilizer and other crop protection solutions while Agrico PSA will provide seed varieties that are high yielding and appropriate for various uses.
Co-op Bank is expected to provide credit and financial tips to those farmers while Agrico PSA- provision seed varieties that are high yielding and appropriate for various uses.
Commercial Banks are still rigid on lending to those at the bottom of the economy, with the latest data by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) showing that a paltry 1.8 percent went to smallholder farmers.
According to Co-op Bank head of agriculture, Esther Kariuki, the lender is working closely with like-minded partners and agriculture value chain players to significantly support agriculture transformation in Kenya.
Others are Simplifine Limited on the other end shall provide market access for the financed farmers by buying their produce.
The first phase of the project is targeting potato-rich regions in the country including Nyandarua, Nakuru, Elgeyo Marakwet and Nyeri.
Nyandarua county boss Kiarie Badilisha graced the event.