MECHANISED PRODUCTION

Narok potato yield triples in a year

EU gives county Sh51 million grant for cold storage to reduce post-harvest losses

In Summary

• Official says local company Vehicle and Equipment Leasing Limited has been contracted to provide mechanisation services.

• Post-harvest losses have also dropped by 90% due to cooperation among farmers, county and donors. 

Nyandarua Agriculture CEC James Karitu (in suit), members of potato capacity-building project and farmers examine hybrid potatoes in a farm in Engineer, Nyandarua county.
TRAINING: Nyandarua Agriculture CEC James Karitu (in suit), members of potato capacity-building project and farmers examine hybrid potatoes in a farm in Engineer, Nyandarua county.
Image: GEORGE MURAGE

Potato production in Narok county has increased by 300 per cent in the last year due to the introduction of mechanised farming in January.

Over the same period, post-harvest losses have dropped by 90 per cent due to a venture among farmers, county government and donors.

The success figures emerged on Saturday when the European Union supported farmers with a Sh51 million grant to the county to improve the ongoing mechanisation.

Under the AgriF1 Kenya Challenge Fund, the money will also be spent to construct a potato cold storage facility to reduce post-harvest losses.

Self Help Africa Country Director Rebecca Amukhoye said farmers will be trained on mechanisation and conservation agriculture techniques especially conservation tillage.

She said local company Vehicle and Equipment Leasing Limited (VAELL) has been contracted to provide the services following the grant.

“We have agreed to enter into this agreement to increase smallholder potato farmers’ income through an integrated value chain approach,” she said. 

Amukhoye said the fund would help build the capacity of smallholder farmers to practice environmentally sustainable and climate-smart agriculture.

“More than 10,000 farmers are expected to benefit from the initiative," she said, adding that the fund grant will help farmers modernise and export produce.

VAELL managing director Bertha Mvati said their strategy would help empower smallholder farmers, estimated to be about 70 per cent of farmers in Kenya.

“At the moment, potato is the third most popular food in Kenya besides maize and banana. With the increase in population and shortage of maize, most players in the sector are encouraging potato farming as a sure bet to food security,” Mvati said.

She said once the cold storage facility was ready, farmers would be able to delay sales for as long as four months.

“Later, they will sell them potatoes for up to 50 to 100 per cent above the market price at their convenience, rather than selling at throwaway prices during the harvest seasons.”

The funds will also help smallholder farmers access certified potato seeds, credit and marketing services. 

Edited by R.Wamochie