KENYA – Yara East Africa Limited, Kenya and Uganda’s leading crop nutrition company has partnered with Agrico PSA, a supplier of high-quality certified potato seeds, to train potato farmers on the significance of using certified seeds and the right inputs for better quality and bigger yields.

The potato farmers who hail from Nakuru, Nyandarua and Narok counties have also been advised to adopt new potatoes varieties such as Markies, Destiny, Dutch Robin and Java.

Markies is a high yielding processing variety suited for processors, hotels and restaurants while Destiny is an early maturing crisp and chips processing potato variety. Dutch Robin matures faster and is moderately resistant to late blight.

The farmers had a field day at Agrico farm in Kabarak where they were taken through the stage by stage of growing-good quality potatoes for export and local processing.

Agronomists from the two companies taught the farmers best practices for better production while at the same time linking them with buyers.

Kefa Makori, Yara’s Regional Agronomist said besides providing proper inputs for the farmers, especially fertilizer, the organization wanted to ensure farmers had market for their produce to reduce post-harvest losses and exploitation from middlemen.

Subsequent to the initial training, Yara avails field officers and digital services to follow-up on their farmers to ensure safe use of agro-chemicals.

“The potato varieties we are encouraging the farmers to grow are higher yielding and have longer shelf-life and on top of these two benefits, Yara has ensured there is ready market,” Makori said.

He revealed that they were currently working with more than 500,000 potato farmers and thousands of others dealing in different crops among them maize, bananas and tomatoes. Yara works with individual large-scale farmers and groups of small-scale producers to enable them to aggregate produce for the market.

“It is difficult for a farmer farming on a one-acre piece of land to produce enough tonnage for either export or local processors and that is why we encourage them to work in groups for better market access and ease of logistics,” Makori said.

The Regional Agronomist informed that the exotic varieties whose seeds were imported from the Netherlands for propagation here in Kenya can also be used by households.

James Kimoi Moi, the Director of Kangoy Farm that works with Agrico East Africa Company to multiply seeds for the exotic potato varieties, said there was high local demand for high-quality potatoes. He cited several examples of food chains and potato processors who needed certain exotic potato varieties.

He said the company in collaboration with his farm produces certified potato seeds that are supplied to farmers.

Kimoi discouraged farmers from re-using potatoes harvested from their farms because they could easily spread disease.

“Producing seeds is not the same as the normal potato growing. There are stages of treatment and monitoring that an ordinary potato on the farm is not taken through to ensure they are disease-free and of best quality,” he said.

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