Nyandarua County has embarked on an ambitious programme that will see potato production increase by over 20% from the current 555,000 metric tonnes to 666,000 metric tonnes annually.
CECM for Agriculture Dr. John Karitu said that the county government intends to provide farmers with certified seeds and subsidised fertilisers to ensure the production was sustained.
Dr. Karitu said the county which is the leading potatoes producer in the country was in the process of putting up a potato seed multiplication centre with farmers expected to start receiving the certified seeds by early 2020.
He disclosed that currently one acre in Nyandarua produces 17 tons of potatoes adding that the projected measures if well implemented will see the production double even as farmers benefit from both high yields and high profits in addition to subsidised farm inputs and a market for their produce.
The CEC further explained that 6,000 farmers have so far benefited from subsidised fertiliser in 2019 and added the county was keen to introduce mechanisation by provision of affordable tractors and harvesters for the farmers by the end of the year to further improve production of the crop.
Karitu at the same time told KNA that the county government has embarked on a process to construct a potato processing plant in Olkalau town and a cold storage facility nearby to facilitate farmers in value addition of their produce.
On marketing, he said that the potato regulations had been gazetted meaning that potatoes will henceforth be packed in 50kg bags and warned that anyone found flouting the rules will face the law.
“The days when brokers used to take advantage of farmers are long gone and we are working with 15 other potato growing counties to make sure the regulations are enforced,” he said.
The county executive was speaking during a field day for potato farmers at Gathara village in Kinangop of Nyandarua County organised by the International Fertiliser Development Centre.
The project manager Patrick Boro said the programme which is funded by the Irish government will engage in training farmers on good agricultural practices and targeted 3,000 farmers in the region who will also benefit from certified seeds.
Boro said that the organisation supported the new packaging regulations noting that farmers had been oppressed for years through brokers and it was high time farmers reaped from their hard labour.
By Esther Mwangi/BrianMbugua