News and knowhow for farmers

Sh127M potato project to double farmer yields 


By George Munene

The national government under the National Agricultural Rural Inclusive and Growth Project (NARIGP) has launched a Sh127 million project that is hoped will increase potato production from the current 12 tons per hectare to over 25 tons in the short term.

The World Bank-funded project will directly benefit 3,000 Nakuru farmers in the country’s major hubs for potato production; Molo, Njoro, Gilgil, Kuresoi North, and Kuresoi South sub-counties as well as upscale potato production across Kenya.

The project is geared at mechanising Irish potato farming in Kenya, as well as establishing a rooted apical cutting production hub and cold storage facility in Nakuru County.

Kenya’s per hectare potato production has stagnated at a paltry 12 tons compared to its outlined potential of 40 tons and a global average of 21 tons.

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This is a result of a lack of mechanisation, scarcity of certified planting seeds, and post-harvest losses. 

The country’s annual potato seed production stands at 6,700 tons against a demand of 30,000 tons.

“Establishing a rooted apical cutting production hub will address the perennial problem of availability of certified and clean planting material. This will help curb incidences of diseases in the field and increase farmer yields from the current 12 tons to over 25 tons per hectare in the short term,” said a NARIGP official.

Nakuru county’s NARIGP coordinating officer Peter Githunguri added that the program will introduce tractors and other implements to be used by farmer cooperatives. This will plough, plant, apply fertilisers, and harvest the potatoes.

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“This machinery will not only raise farmer yields but also help avert post-harvest losses by ensuring timely planting and harvesting,” he added.

The project’s construction of a modern cold room store at Muchorwe, Molo Sub-County, will help cushion farmers from losses– an estimated 40 per cent of potato farmer losses are post-harvest.  

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