Potato farmers in Nyandarua County are set to rip big from the produce, once a consortium that brings together players in the value chain comes to fruition.
This comes after several players in the sub-sector signed a Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) on contract farming, crop protection, and value addition on potatoes.
The consortium will bring together several cooperative societies in the county, leading market players in potatoes processing, the Cooperative Bank, and other agrochemical processors.
The framework undertakes to create a potato value chain infrastructure that enhances wealth creation through improvement in quality and products aggregation.
Speaking during the signing of the MoU, Governor Dr. Kiarie Badilisha noted that one of the greatest challenges facing potato farmers in the county was market access noting that it was a sad paradox that the country continued to import potatoes for high-end food chains when local farmers in Nyandarua, who are the leading producers, are struggling to get quality value for their produce.
However, he observed that with these interventions, farmers and other stakeholders were edging closer to completely transforming farming in the county.
The contract farming is also set to attract support from the Co-operative Bank, Agrico Potatoes Services and Yara International, with farmers who have organized themselves into co-operatives poised to benefit the most.
The Governor proposed that a cold stage be built per Sub-County, resuscitating more than 300 wetlands for irrigation, rehabilitating County roads and providing farm inputs.
Yara Fertilizer Marketing Manager Ms. Carol Mumo said the consortium that brings together the various players would come in handy in helping farmers get access to quality seeds, financial boost from the Cooperative Bank as the main financier, and agrochemicals and fertilizers that are specifically designed for specific type of crop.
“Various players will provide crucial commodities to farmers to enhance high yields and at the same time, provide a market for the produce,” he said.
“Capacity building will be enhanced to enable farmers to practice farming of highly productive potatoes that meets the international markets requirements,” said Mumo
The consortium has Bigcold Kenya Ltd (the official suppliers to KFC), Potato Services Africa, Yara Fertilizer, Bayer East Africa, Cooperative Bank and several cooperative societies in the county.
Once the MoU realizes its goals, it is expected that more than 600 metric tons of potatoes will be bought from Nyandarua County alone.
Simplifine Foods is expected to take the lead in the anticipated uptake, which seeks to help address challenges posed by post-harvest losses, financial constraints, limited capacity and middlemen.
By Antony Mwangi