Potato farmers from Narok and Nakuru counties who have adopted certified seeds can now sell their produce directly to processors.
This follows a partnership between Agrico East Africa, a company that multiplies and distributes various potato varieties, and Yara East Africa, a manufacturer and supplier of fertiliser.
In the deal, smallholder farmers will receive training and inputs in the form of certified potato seed varieties, fertiliser and crop protection products. The farmers will also be connected to local processors who will buy their produce.
“This partnership seeks to improve productivity and income among local farmers to address the challenge of food security,” said Kefa Makori, an agronomist at Yara East Africa. “With farmers having access to certified seeds and products that can boost the productivity, they can meet off-takers’ high-quality requirements.”
Yara has established five centres of excellence targeting to provide practical knowledge through on-farm training. While Agrico East Africa supplies certified potato seeds that match the high-quality requirements, Yara supplies fertiliser and crop protection products.
“There has been a challenge of accessing certified potato seeds over the years, and we came in in 2015 to bridge the gap and introduce different varieties as per market demands to the farmers. Once the farmers have access to the seeds, we guide them from planting through to harvesting and finally finding a market for them to address the challenges of having to deal with middlemen,” said Agrico Potato Service Africa Director Kimoi Moi.
Besides field training on growing quality potatoes, farmers can also access the information via Facebook where potato knowledge is shared between farmers, experts and off-takers.
“Accessing quality potato seeds has been a bottleneck that had over the years resulted in poor yields and farmers making losses. The past few years have, however, marked a turnover from making losses to a highly profitable business,” said Mr Kimoi.
Narok-based farmer Jackson Ole Nasaole says the training has helped him to manage potato diseases and avoid middlemen.