Nyandarua County Governor Francis Kimemia has called for devolution on the distribution of certified seeds to counties to ensure timely reach of the seeds to the farmers.
Speaking in Ol Kalou during the World Potato Day celebration Kimemia raised concern over the slow nature of seeds distribution during the planting season.
“It is a challenge distributing certified seeds from the National government down to farmers. Resources have to be put in and the county can easily provide land for such seeds. Seed multiplication initiatives if brought to the county level will ensure farmers get cheap and clean seeds easily,” noted Kimemia.
Kimemia also noted that fertiliser is also another hitch in Nyandarua towards potato production. He said that the county doesn’t get enough subsidised fertilisers thus slowing production.
“We only allocate 20 million for fertilizer purchasing and it is always not enough. The voucher system of purchasing subsidised fertilizer needs to be enhanced to cater for poor farmers who cannot afford the subsidised fertiliser,” added Kimemia.
On potato regulation, the governor, called upon other governors from potato growing counties to come together and discuss a standard regulation to ensure some balance.
“Nyandarua could adopt some regulation but Narok and Meru decide not to adopt the same thus disadvantaging farmers in Nyandarua because traders will go to counties with less or favorable regulations,” added Kimemia.
According to Beatrice Nyamwamu, Head of Food Directorate at Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), the regulations are anchored on the Crops Act and all that AFA does is reinforce them.
“This Act says that farmers may register with associations, so there is freedom of registration. Farmers are not being compelled, we give them the freedom to register with these associations for their own benefit,” clarified Nyamwamu.
She said that the large scale farmers are required to register with AFA by law. She also underscored that the registration is meant to help the farmers, especially the smallholder farmers to bring them together for linkages.
CEO National Potato Council Wachira Kaguongo, said the registration is important because it will help in the event of interventions such as subsidization of fertilizers and seeds.
“Registration will help to guide the government and relevant stakeholders in planning for their inclusion. Farmers need to beware of misinformation from traders spreading propaganda masquerading as farmers,” said Kaguongo.
Nyandarua County produces 33 per cent of Kenya’s total potato production making it the highest potato producing county in the country.
By Rahab Naimutie and Antony Mwangi