Grow Africa and AGRA sign agreement to collaborate on value-chain projects

Grow Africa and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) have signed a collaboration agreement that will guide cooperation in the implementation of projects including the East African potato value chain consortium.

The agreement was signed at the 2016 African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Nairobi, where further commitments were made to strengthen the potato consortium, which was founded in 2015 by Grow Africa and AGRA. Companies producing potato products in East Africa announced a commitment to purchase 600 metric tonnes (MT) of potatoes per month to meet rapidly growing consumer demand. This commitment will help to unlock much-needed investment in the regional potato value chain to achieve its production potential and benefit thousands of smallholder farmers. The market opportunity for potato processing in the East African Community (EAC) is estimated to represent up to US$1.2bn by 2025.

Potato value chain stakeholders convened at AGRF to further their collaboration through an existing regional potato consortium co-convened by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Grow Africa. 

The goal of the consortium is to increase regional production and supply of this high-potential commodity by addressing bottlenecks across the value chain through coordinated action. Farmers will be assured of a ready market for their produce and processors will get a steady supply of quality potatoes. To achieve this, the consortium brings together farmers, inputs companies, processing companies, county and national governments for provision of supporting infrastructure and finance providers.

President of AGRA, Dr. Agnes Kalibata welcomed the collaboration terming it as good news for the farmers. “ In order to achieve a uniquely African  green revolution, we have to support farmers to do what they do very well and potato growing is one thing that our farmers do well. Provided with additional support, African farmers can increase potato production from the current 5 tons per hectare to 35-40 tons per hectare. It is the aim of this consortium to drive the right partnerships to increase farmers production, improve marketing and increase farmers income in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda”.
 
Dr. Richard Lesiyampe, Principle Secretary, State Department of Agriculture, lauded the collaboration and promised the government support to upscale it. “Potato is the second most important crop in Kenya employing about 2.5 million Kenyans. It is an industry we have to protect, expand and add value for food security”, he said. “The government cannot succeed alone. We need all the actors involved across the entire value chain to play their part. That is why we are delighted to be part of this consortium”.

William Asiko, Executive Director of Grow Africa added: “To secure higher levels of investment in agriculture and improve farmers’ incomes, there has to be coordination and alignment of efforts right across commodity value chains, and to achieve meaningful scale this needs to happen at the regional level. Grow Africa is committed to driving this through multi-stakeholder value chain partnerships, and we are delighted to be working with AGRA on realising the vast potential of the potato value chain in East Africa.”

Average potato consumption in the East African Community has grown by approximately 300% over the past two decades, yet farmers have largely failed to benefit from this with low farm-gate prices due to highly fragmented supply chains, and continuing low yields due to lack of access to quality inputs and expertise. Addressing these shortcomings and strengthening the value chain to meet the rapidly growing demand has the potential to more than double farmer incomes in the region.

The regional potato consortium will work through focused ‘clusters’ to address jointly agreed priority constraints in the value chain, informed by the outcomes of a recent market study on the opportunities and challenges across the East African potato value chain. For more information on the work of the consortium, click here