Smallholder potato farmers can now improve their yields significantly following a deal signed between Corteva Agriscience, a US-based chemical and seed council and the National Potato Council of Kenya.
This partnership seeks to bring into the country improved technologies that will enable farmers to improve their potato yields through the use of the quality seed, resilient and improved varieties.
Farmers will also be exposed to the latest pest and disease management techniques as well as best post-harvest management practices and record keeping.
Between April and September this year, seven demonstration plots have been set up in the regions of Kinangop, Olkalau, Mau Narok, Bomet Central, Kieni East, Kieni West as well as Ainabkoi.
Over 400 farmers have received training in soil testing services, apical cuttings technology as well as seeds selection and use of quality and certified seeds, crop nutrition and protection as well as provision of spray services.
Kenya remains a net importer of potatoes, especially from Tanzania, due to its underdeveloped farming practices.
The potato sector contributes some US$ 30 million annually to the Kenyan economy, providing employment to over 3.3 million people, including 800,000 smallholder farmers.
An average potato farmer produces about 7 tons per hectare compared to 50 tonnes per hectare in other countries.
By adopting to modern farming practices, small-scale farmers will be able to push up this yield to 20 tonnes per hectare.
According to Francis Karanja, Corteva Agriscience Sales Leader, Crop Protection in East Africa, Corteva Agriscience aims to boost productivity, incomes, and improve on farming practices of smallholder farmers in Kenya.
The technology the US firm is bringing on board best agronomic practices and modern technology to enable farmers to deal with fungal diseases and increase potato yields per hectare in smallholdings.
Wachira Kagoungo, an officer from the Potato Council of Kenya, said challenges facing Potato farming in Kenya can only be tackled through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) approach that brings together stakeholders in the industry.
“Our objective at the council is to assist farmers produce high yields per hectare, free of diseases and pests. Our role will be to mobilize potato farmers and other stakeholders in the potato value chain to benefit from this technology and other measures aimed at increasing small holders’ incomes,” said Mr Kagoungo.