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Potato farmers to get quality seeds, increase profits

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 Potato farmers from Nakuru and Narok counties during a farmers' field day at Agrico East Africa potato farm in Kabarak. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

For a long time now, potato farmers in the country have been facing numerous challenges such as poor quality seeds, lack of information on crop nutrition programmes, restricted access to finance and unreliable markets. But thanks to a partnership among industry stakeholders, this situation is bound to change for the benefit of the ever-resilient farmers.

Yara East Africa has entered a partnership focused on strengthening the potato value chain in Kenya, with an aim of providing reliable economic opportunities for potato farmers. According to the National Potato Council of Kenya, potatoes are the second-most significant food and economic crop after maize.  Around 800,000 smallholder farmers cultivate the crop, resulting in downstream employment of 2.7 million people, and contributing more than over Sh50 billion to the economy. The average output is 10 tonnes per hectare.

“This initiative will work on addressing the current barriers that smallholder farmers face within the potato value chain by enabling access to affordable and quality inputs, credit, and markets,” noted William Ngeno, Yara East Africa’s Country Manager.

Through this partnership, Yara and its partners have developed modules that will help farmers increase yields through the use of appropriate input packages, Yara crop nutrition solutions, Agrico seed varieties and Bayer crop protection solutions. Yara endeavours to provide customised fertilisers to not only enable farmers to achieve higher yields but also get the desired tuber quality.

Co-operative Bank of Kenya will provide affordable financing options for the farmers to ensure timely access to quality inputs. Simplifine Ltd on the other end shall provide market access for the financed farmers by buying their produce. Subhashini Chandran, Yara International’s Vice President for Social Impact – Africa & Asia, stated, “One of the key pillars in our regional social impact strategy is to create sustainable incomes for smallholder farmers across the country. We see this partnership delivering stable and strong economic returns for Kenya’s potato farmers and hope to see them achieve higher productivity and incomes.”

By 2026, this partnership will benefit 30,000 potato farmers in Kenya, improving yields by more than 50 per cent and reducing post-harvest losses by at least 50 per cent, thereby delivering prosperity for farming communities. Key gaps will be addressed including agronomy, commercial and digital knowledge and access to finance. Of the estimated 7,000 active agro-retailers in Kenya, more than 4,000 work with Yara. This ensures farmers across the country are served with the key crop nutrition formulations. The company also partners with two million smallholder farmers and 3,500 MSMEs, resulting in the production of staple crops to feed 10 million people.

Synergies in agriculture bring amazing results from farm to fork for the benefit of all stakeholders along the value chain. 

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