The National Potato Council of Kenya has established a collaboration with Corteva Agriscience, a publicly traded, global pure-play agriculture company that provides farmers around the world with the most complete portfolio on research and markets.
The partnership announced on Friday 25th September 2020 will lead to use of improved technologies in farms and will engage farmers in order to show them how to improve potato yields. The deal will focus on important factors of production such as use of quality seeds, resilient and improved varieties, pest and disease management, post-harvest management and record keeping.
Details show that the collaboration had started way back in April this year and seven demonstration plots have already been set up across the country and over 400 farmers trained on recommended practices. Some of the practices including soil testing, apical cuttings technology, seeds selection and use of quality varieties/certified seeds, crop nutrition, crop protection and spray service provision have been touted as the game changer in the field.
The move will also improve the country’s ability to produce huge quantities of quality potatoes to match the growing needs which has seen it import the farm product countries such as Uganda and Tanzania.
Aside from helping small holder farmers across the country, the collaboration will also assure the country of atleast USD 30 million annually and provide employment opportunity to about 3.3 million people.
According to Francis Karanja, Corteva Agriscience Sales Leader in East Africa, adopting use of improved inputs and techniques will enable farmers to increase their potato yields from the current 7 tons to 20 tons per hectare thereby moving closer to the best performing countries which register up to 50 tons per hectare.
” The technology we are bringing on board, which incorporates best agronomic practices, modern technology to provide scientific control of fungal diseases and safe use of chemicals is meant to increase the potato yields per hectare in the small holdings significantly,” said Karanja.
While acknowledging the partnership, Wachira Kagoungo from the Potato Council of Kenya pointed out that local farmers have been producing low yields of poor quality due to use of poor quality seeds, lack of modern technology, and lack of expertise in disease and pest control.
The partnership he said will assist farmers to produce high yields per hectare, free of diseases and pests and cement their role in the potato value chain in the country.