Partnership with Ireland to benefit small scale potatoes farmers

About 3,000 small scale potato farmers in Nyandarua County are set to reap big as a partnership deal is sealed with Ireland and the devolved unit.

The deal will focus on production and marketing of the crop to ensure farmers generate wealth from the venture.

Speaking to the press at Olkalou Stadium, during the launch of Potato Sector Capacity Building in Nyandarua County on Wednesday, Governor Francis Kimemia said the exercise was to address issues of farmers training, market linkages, production and distribution of high quality potato seeds.

We have embarked on a mission to boost the potato sector in our county, and this will be achieved by learning better farming methods, market linkages and storage of our produce, said Kimemia, adding that they have partnered with Ireland government to raise the current 33 per cent production level in the county to a higher margin.

The agreement was entered into by Ireland Minister for Public Works, Kelvin Boxer Moran, Irish Ambassador to Kenya, Dr. Vincent O’neill, Principal Secretary for Agriculture (crop production) Richard Lesiyampe and Governor, Francis Kimemia.

Kimemia said the county government, with the help of the National government, will pump resources into the sector and ensure Nyandarua County becomes the best potato producer in the country.

The project will be funded for three years by , through the Embassy of Ireland and other stakeholders to boost production and marketing.

Ireland Minister for Public Works said that the Irish Government has been in Kenya for the last two years and their main focus is creating wealth to farmers.

Lesiyampe said that there is need to major in starch farming to reduce importation cost in the country.

Why should we import starch while we can produce best quality potato? Potato farming being the number two crop in our country will also help reduce pressure on maize production, said Lesiyampe.

He added that the government will bring on board the youth in the project, to create employment to them.

The PS said a Bill on packaging of potatoes in a 50 kg bag is in Parliament to cushion farmers from exploitation by middlemen.

Among other partners in the launch, were International Fertilizer Development Center (IFCD), Kevian ltd, IPM potato group, The Agriculture and Food Development Authority Ireland (TEAGASC), Safe Food System Ireland (SFSI), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) and Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO).

Source: Kenya News Agency