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November 16, 2018

Potato processors contract 23,000 farmers to meet consumer demand

Alice Nyaguthii, who once lived and farmed in the forest but is now a squatter in Kabiruini, Ruturu in Nyeri County plants a tree in a potato farm in Hombe forest.
Alice Nyaguthii, who once lived and farmed in the forest but is now a squatter in Kabiruini, Ruturu in Nyeri County plants a tree in a potato farm in Hombe forest.

Some 23,000 farmers in 13 potato-producing counties have signed contracts with various processors in Kenya to buy the produce to supply enough food to consumers.

Grow Africa's Leah Kasera said, “Potato processors have committed to purchase 2,650 metric tonnes per month to meet consumer demand and this is expected to streamline the potato value chain to benefit farmers and processors.”

She said they want to meet the target of 63,600 tonnes for the next 24 months.

Kasera spoke during the first ever Nyandarua Potato Fair held at the Agriculture Training Centre in Oljoro Orok, Nyandarua, at the weekend.

According to the National Potato Council of Kenya, Kenya’s potato value chain involves approximately 2.7 million people among them 800,000 smallholder farmers and it contributes to more than Sh50 billion to the economy.

Kasera said the contacts will be signed through the East Africa Potato Consortium that was formed in 2015 in a partnership between the NPCK, Grow Africa and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

The contracted farmers are from various groups and cooperatives in Meru, Elgeyo Marakwet, Nyandarua, Nakuru, Bungoma, Bomet and Laikipia counties.

Humphrey Mburu, the Sereni Fries Processing Company MD, said getting the required quality and quantity of potatoes for processing has been a big problem as a result of low production due to the lack of certified potato seeds.

“We want to start contracting farmers so that we can get potatoes with the right shape, which is ideal for potato processing. We work with between 500 and 700 farmers on a yearly basis, but production is still low,” he said.

The company has the capacity of processing 15 tonnes of potatoes a day, but it is barely doing fives tonnes a day.

David Kimotho, a farmer from Mirangi-ini, Nyandarua county, said contract farming will help in getting a ready market, better prices and farmers can easily access loans.

He has been growing potatoes for 12 years in his five-acre farm.

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