Co-op Bank meets Key Stakeholders to Launch the Smallholder Potato Development Program

It may be recalled how shocked Kenyans became when reports began filtering in the media last year January 2022 that the multinational food giant KFC has run out of ‘fries’ for customers following non-delivery of potatoes from their overseas suppliers.

That potatoes for consumption by Kenyans had to be imported was a major surprise amidst the perennial woe and cry by potato farmers especially in the potato-glut zone of Nyandarua for lack of market.

KFC was equally shocked by the sharp public rebuke, and together with other stakeholders have been working quietly behind the scenes to put in place mechanisms for a farmer-anchored sustainable supply chain for potatoes.

((From left) Esther Kariuki (Co-op Bank), Carol Mumo MUMO (Yara EA) and Dr. Kiarie Moses (Gvn. Nyandarua)

The project formed the ‘Potato Consortium’ that’s made of experts in the critical industry. This is to ensure that the value chain right from quality of seed to the farmer, financing and eventually to the food plate is consistent with the highest quality standards.

On Tuesday, March 7th, 2023, Co-op Bank met with key stakeholders to launch the Smallholder Potato Development Program.

The journey towards full local production for Kenya’s favorite meal, the potato fries, has begun!

Stakeholders present at the MOU signing

  • The Governor, Nyandarua County HE Kiarie Badilisha
  • Co-operative Bank Head of Agriculture Business Esther Kariuki
  • Agrico’s Corien Herweijer
  • Bayer East Africa’s Eunice Waithaka
  • Simplifine Ltd’s Steven Carlyon
  • Yara East Africa’s Carol Mumo

Objective: Transforming lives of potato farmers in Kenya

The consortium of likeminded companies that play within the potato value chain, is addressing current barriers that potato farmers face, by enabling access to affordable and quality inputs, credit and sustainable markets.

The partners within the consortium have developed modular solutions that will help farmers increase potato yields though the use of appropriate input packages;

  • Yara crop nutrition and soil testing solutions
  • Agrico PSA- provision seed varieties that are high yielding and appropriate for various uses
  • Bayer crop protection solutions.
  • The Co-operative Bank of Kenya will provide capacity building support to County Governments and Co-operative Societies to enable them form and run strong, efficient and well-governed potato Co-operatives. The bank will also provide affordable financing options for the farmers to ensure timely access to quality inputs, water, mechanization and post-harvest solutions.
  • Simplifine Ltd on the other end shall provide market access for the financed farmers by buying their produce.

The backbone of this will be capacity building on good agronomical practices, financial literacy, contractual literacy, et al, with agronomy support provided to assist farmers farm correctly.

The end of result of this is higher yields experienced by farmers, creating sustainable incomes for the farmers.

(From left) Esther Kariuki (Co-op Bank), Steve Carlyon (Simplifine) and Dr. Kiarie Moses (Gvn. Nyandarua)

Role of potato in Kenya’s Agricultural sector

Potato plays a key role and is among the top 5 important crops in Kenya, with approx. 450,000 acres of potato planted per year. The average productivity from studies conducted is 3 tons /acre, making it a loss making venture for farmers; industries within the potato value chain have growth limitations.

However, with the joint efforts of the partners in the consortium, the productivity can improve to average 14 tons per acre. With this contributing to food security and through consistent supply of potatoes, industries can grow.

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Counties approached are:

Four (4) counties in the first half of 2023

  • Nyandarua
  • Nakuru
  • Elgeyo Marakwet
  • Nyeri

Target Estimate of Farmers:

It is our desire that by 2026, this partnership will benefit 30,000 potato farmers in Kenya, improving yields by 50% and reducing post-harvest losses by at least 50%, to spur prosperity for farming communities.

Key gaps will be addressed including agronomy, commercial and digital knowledge, access to finance and market.

Update on Co-op Bank’s strategic involvement in Agri-Business/Agri Co-operatives sector

Co-operative Bank is the leading Food & Agriculture financing bank in Kenya and working closely with like-minded partners and Agriculture value chain players is committed to significantly support the Agriculture and food systems transformation in Kenya.

About this writer:

Kibaki Muthamia

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