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Government launches value addition project to market potato

potato farmer nyandarua

Frmer harvesting his potatoes. Farmers experience low potato yields due to poor seeds and lack of production skills. Photo: Raymond Jumah.

The government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Ireland has launched a project that will see over 800,000 potato smallholder farmers in Kenya benefit from potato value chain from planting to marketing enabling the farmers improve on their yields as well as avoiding post-harvest losses.  

Out of the smallholder farmers 95 per cent experience low yields of 3-4 tonnes of potatoes per acre per season against 12-15 tonnes that they ought to produce within the same time and the same size of land should they get access to proper seeds, training and agronomical support.

“Our farmers produce less 63,600 tonnes consumer demand in Kenya due to bad soil, poor seeds and lack of production skills,” said Henry Koech, head of value chain at National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK).

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Farmers have also suffered from poor selection of their potatoes after harvest by traders who leave out the smaller-sized potatoes which go to waste due to lack of market.

“In this project, farmers will be allowed to sell all their produce to the market which will be offered by the council and its partners,” said Koech.

Additionally the project is seeking to address soil testing, soil management, quality seeds and best seed multiplication among farmers.

“It is a basic knowledge in potato production that there should be four rotations before planting potato on the same piece of land something some farmers are not aware of, hence they end up producing low quality produce which most food companies do not accept.”

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The project which was launched yesterday in Nyandarua County will include potato value addition in starch and animal feed production to meet the standards of the international markets the potato industry is eying.

In this project, the Ireland government will be offering expert services in the potato value chain among other activities to help address food insecurity challenges in the country.

“The aim of this project is to put more money into the pockets of farmers and help them access the knowledge in potato production and value chain management,” said Ireland Minister for Public Works, Kelvin Moran.

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This project will further be extended to othe counties such as Nakuru, Bomet and West Pokot to help farmers face off outdated farming practices which has affected yields.

“The reason the project begins from Nyandarua County is because our farmers produce the biggest percentage of potatoes as compared to other counties which is at 33 per cent,” said Nyandarua County governor, Francis Kimemia.

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