FARMING

Irish ambassador happy with Nyandarua potato project

The three year deal was signed in March last year.

In Summary

• Ambassador Fionnuala Quinlan said there is potential to have the project escalated after the initial three years. 

•  Nyandarua Governor underscores the importance of the project to area farmers and the county at large.

Irish ambassador Fionualla Quinlan during a courtesy call at Nyandarua Governor's office on Monday
Irish ambassador Fionualla Quinlan during a courtesy call at Nyandarua Governor's office on Monday
Image: Ndichu Wainaina

Irish ambassador to Kenya Fionnuala Quinlan is satisfied with the ongoing capacity building in the Irish potato value chain in Nyadarua county.

The three –year programme aims at improving farmers' yields and livelihoods through the provision of certified seeds, improved practices through training on better farming methods and access to the market.

“It is very innovative and we see the potential of it being scaled up as it proves successful. We have already seen the results and farmers are very happy because the yield is doubling,” Ambassador Quinlan said

She spoke during a two- day tour for Potato Capacity Building Farmers’ Field day in Nyandarua, where she toured farms in Kipipiri, Ol Kalou, Ol Joro Ork and Ndaragwa.

She said the second phase of the project, which is midway, will be about escalating the multiplication of the satisfied seeds and availing to the farmers to enhance their access to the potato value chain.

She said it is not yet decided what happens to the potato capacity building project once three years elapse but pointed on the potential to have it escalated if successful as expected.

The programme was part of a deal signed in March last year between Nyandarua government and the government of Ireland and it is implemented through the International Fertilizer Development Center, among other partners. 

Over 3,800 farmers have been trained through Farmers Business School Model, with 2,500 more being trained during the potato capacity-building field days.

In a statement read on his behalf by Agriculture executive James Karitu, Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia noted that the project is of great benefit to the farmers and the county at large.

“I am pleased to note that the partnership of my government with the Irish government, through the International Fertilizer Development cooperation has been extremely handy in turning this sector around,” he said.

Among the potato variety being multiplied are Sagitta, Dutch Robin, Panamera, Sangi among others.

The project brings together government agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and research and development institutions, with each contributing their own strengths.

She said the Irish government and concerned partners or any other person may look at the value created and decide to take it further.

“That is something to be decided,” she said

 Quinlan noted that the project, which has also supported over 100 farmers to participate in various knowledge sharing fora, will continue for three years to ensure farmers overcome identified challenges.

 
Yields are usually below 10 tonnes per hectare, compared to a potential 40 tonnes. Less than five percent of farmers also use certified seed, which is either unavailable or too expensive for them to afford.
Irish ambassador Fionnuala Quinlan and Nyandarua Agriculture executive James Karitu enjoy locally made yogurt and Viazi Karai (delicacy made from Irish potato) during potato capacity building farmers field day at Gathiriga in Githioro ward, Kipipiri on Monday
Irish ambassador Fionnuala Quinlan and Nyandarua Agriculture executive James Karitu enjoy locally made yogurt and Viazi Karai (delicacy made from Irish potato) during potato capacity building farmers field day at Gathiriga in Githioro ward, Kipipiri on Monday
Image: NDICHU WAINAINA

Further, inputs are incorrectly used, including unbalanced fertilizers or wrong dosages for agrochemicals.

Interventions include farmer training, market linkages, production and distribution of high-quality seed potatoes.

The goal is to improve quality, double potato yields, and farmers’ revenues, and to help farmers supply processors with increasing volumes, reaching 50,000 tonnes by the third year.

Other market players such as traders, transporters, food retailers and agro vets will benefit from either training or increased demand for their products and services.

Edited by Eliud Kibii