Potato Stakeholders Chart Ways of Improving Potato Production for Food Security

KEPHIS Headquarters, Nairobi - Kenya needs more production of potatoes and uptake of the tuber as a regular food by Kenyans to enable the country to be more food secure.

During a two day consultative meeting held at KEPHIS headquarters, stakeholders in the potato value chain discussed major aspects of potato production that would enhance the tuber's availability such the status of the potato value chain, variety development, introduction and multiplication, seed potato certification and trends in seed potato production, pests and diseases that affect potato production such as Bacterial Wilt, potato storage and marketing, potato quality and value addition and investments in certified seed production.

Potato is Kenya's second most important food crop after maize and efforts are underway to promote its production and development, even in areas where it is not traditionally grown such as Trans Nzoia County.

Stakeholders, who included Agrico, Kisima Farm, KALRO, CIP, Sereni Flowers, Stokman Rosen, NPCK, and Gaia Foods also discussed marketing the tuber and having specific days such as 'Potato Day' where Kenyans would be sensitized on the nutritional value of potato. When baked or grilled, potato is a nutritious carbohydrate that provides energy to the body.

Nyandarua County, the top potato producing county in Kenya attended the meeting to learn more about potato production and how it can be a model county in the tuber production. The county is well endowed with suitable soils and a conducive climate for potato production. The CEC Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in the county Dr. James Karitu said farmers in his county prefer Shangi, Asante, Tigoni, Kenya Mpya, Desiree, Kenya Karibu and Sherehekea. However, one of the main challenges to increased potato production is lack of certified seed which is both a challenge and an opportunity. Other challenges include inadequate and inappropriate storage facilities, fluctuating market prices, high post harvest losses, high incidences of pests and diseases, high cost of inputs and poor marketing systems. Discussions are also ongoing to include women and youth in producing potatoes as a business opportunity.

KEPHIS and the private sector are creating awareness on released potato varieties that are suitable for chips and processing into crisps. Released varieties with superior attributes can be used by international restaurants and hotels that are setting shop in Kenya that require specific varieties to meet their meal standards and requirements.

Top potato producing counties are Nyandarua, Meru, Nyeri, Kiambu, Taita Taveta, Nakuru, Narok, Bomet, Elgeyo Marakwet, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, Uasin Gishu and West Pokot; other potato producing counties include Kisii, Nyamira, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Baringo, Nandi, Laikipia and Kericho. Upcoming potential potato producing counties include Machakos, Makueni, Embu, Kajiado, Tharaka Nithi, Samburu, Kwale and Nairobi. The leading production counties are Nyandarua (29.8 %), Nakuru (18.9 %) and Elgeyo Marakwet (16.2 %). Farmers countrywide harvest 60-80 bags of 110 kilograms per acre while small holder farmers harvest 30-50 bags of 110 kilograms per acre; this against a potential production of 150 bags per hectare for a 110 kilogram bag.

  

KEPHIS MD Dr Esther Kimani and the CEC Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of Nyandarua County Dr James Karitu during the potato consultative forum at KEPHIS headquarters. KEPHIS, the county government of Nyandarua and other stakeholders discussed how to enhance potato production in the country.

 

Potato stakeholders who attended a two day consultative forum on how to enhance potato production in Kenya at KEPHIS headquarters, Nairobi. The forum explored ways of increasing and improving potato production in Kenya to improve food security.

 
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