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Brief on the Smallholder Potato Development Program

From the left: Conen Henreyer ( Agro Potato Services Africa), Steve Carlyon (President Simplifine), Dr Kiarie Moses N. Badilisha ( Nyandarua County Governor) and Esther Kariuki ( Head of Agri Cooperative at Co-op Bank) displaying an MOU after signing on March 7, 2023. Courtesy: Co-op Bank

March 28, 2023
It may be recalled how shocked Kenyans were 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 the 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 Kenyan potato farmers, especially in the potato-glut zone of Nyandarua of the lack of market for their produce.

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

From the left is Esther Kariuki ( Head of Agri Cooperative at Co-op Bank), Steve Carlyon (President Simplifine) and Dr Kiarie Moses N. Badilisha ( Nyandarua County Governor) signing an M.O.U on March 7, 2023. Courtesy: Co-op Bank

The project formed the ‘Potato Consortium’ that brings together all companies that bring on board domain expertise in all matters of potatoes, to ensure the value chain right from the quality of the seed to the farmer financing and eventually to the food plate is consistent with the highest quality standards.

This is what was launched, and the journey towards full local production for Kenya’s favourite 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

A brief about the project

Objective: Transforming lives of potato farmers in Kenya

The consortium of like-minded 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 through 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 the county Government 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 e.t.c. with agronomy support provided to assist farmers farm correctly. The end result of this is higher yields experienced by farmers, creating sustainable incomes for the farmers.

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 potatoes are 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 approx. 14ton/acre, with this contributing to food security and through a consistent supply of potatoes, industries can grow.

No. of counties approached.

4 counties in the first half of 2023 (Nyandarua, Nakuru, Elgeyo Marakwet and Nyeri)

No. of farmers' project is likely to impact

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%, thereby delivering 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 are committed to significantly supporting the Agriculture and food systems transformation in Kenya.

From the left: Esther Kariuki ( Head of Agri Cooperative at Co-op Bank), Carol Mumo (Social Impact Mar Yara East Africa) and Dr. Kiarie Moses N. Badilisha ( Nyandarua County Governor) signing an M.O.U on March 7, 2023. Courtesy: Co-op Bank

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