Giving a life-line to small holder farmers in Kenya
“Through the National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK) ICT platform, Viazi-Soko, I have been able to sell my potatoes at Ksh 10 per kg while other farmers who sold outside the platform sold at Ksh 6.7 per Kg” said Mr David Kimotho, a member of Green Silver potato farmer group in Nyandarua County, Kenya.
The Green Silver potato farmer group has benefited from direct market linkage through the National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK). Grow Africa supports the NPCK in partnership with the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The potato platform works to address bottlenecks in the industry related to inputs, infrastructure and processing to help unlock private sector investment.
The NPCK through its partnership with Grow Africa and AGRA, is implementing various initiatives that help address the challenges in the potato sub-sector in Kenya. Some of the initiatives include direct linkage of potato farmer groups with market outlets and supporting the farmers to participate in networking and information exchange forums such as National Potato Conference and County Trade Fairs.
Potato have grown in importance in Kenya - both as a staple food and as a source of farmer incomes - over the past 30 years. Measured by quantity harvested, it now ranks as the country's No. 2 food crop, with production totalling an average of 800 000 tonnes per year. Potato production in the country has grown by 340% over the past 20 years, and the average potato consumption has increased at a similar pace, growing by approximately 300% in the same period. Despite this growth in production and consumption, potato farmers have failed to benefit, with farm-gate prices remaining very low at US$0.15/kg.
Mr David Kimotho not only sold his last harvest through the NPCK ICT platform “Viazi-Soko at a higher price than fellow farmers in his area but continues to benefit from regular advisory messages on good agricultural practices that the platforms shares with registered member through mobile phones.
“Through the platform, I have learned of new agrochemicals that have the potential to boost yields through effective management of pest and diseases and have been introduced to potato market outlets and processors with whom we have begun talks on contractual farming. I wish all farmers would take advantage of the platform to market their potatoes,” added Mr Kimotho.