KENYA – Corteva Agriscience, a leading pure-play agriculture company and the National Potato Council of Kenya have collaborated to introduce improved technologies on potato production to boost yields.
According to Corteva, the initiative will introduce to farmers crop protection solutions, quality seed, resilient and improved varieties, pest and disease management, good hilling technologies, post-harvest management and record keeping.
“Our objective at the Council is to help farmers produce high yield potential per hectare, free of diseases and pests.”Mr. Wachira Kagoungo from the Potato Council of Kenya
Francis Karanja, Corteva Agriscience Sales Leader, Crop Protection in East Africa, said, “Corteva Agriscience is collaborating to help increase the productivity, incomes, and sustainable farming practices of smallholder farmers.
“The products and information we share helps farmers manage potato pests and diseases, incorporate the latest advances in sustainability and technology into their daily operations.”
The collaboration will provide critical field activities such as seed distribution, establishment of demonstration plots and field crop management.
Training of host farmers and farmer group representatives at the demonstration plots in potato growing regions in Kenya will be undertaken, where farmers have limited extension services and poor access to markets.
Since April 2020, seven demonstration plots have been planted, in Kinangop, Olkalau, Mau Narok, Bomet Central, Kieni East, Kieni West and Ainabkoi sub-counties.
Over 400 farmers have been trained on recommended practices such as soil testing services, apical cuttings technology, seeds selection and use of quality varieties/certified seeds, crop nutrition, crop protection and spray service provision.
The potato value chain in Kenya has remained underdeveloped for years, even though the crop is a key staple food, second only to maize.
As a result, the country has been forced to import large quantities of potatoes, especially from neighboring countries like Tanzania.
Mr. Wachira Kagoungo from the Potato Council of Kenya said that the challenges facing potato farming in Kenya could only be tackled through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) by industry stakeholders to provide an integrated and coordinated approach to assist the farmers along the value chain.
“Our objective at the Council is to help farmers produce high yield potential per hectare, free of diseases and pests.
“Our role will be to mobilize potato farmers and other stakeholders in the potato value chain to benefit from this technology and other measures aimed at increasing small holders’ incomes,’’ said Mr. Kagoungo.
Potato contributes almost US$ 30 million annually to the Kenyan economy. The sector employs approximately 3.3 million people, of which around 800,000 are smallholder farmers.
Kenyan potato farmers have an average output of 7 tons per hectare compared to 50 tons per hectare in other countries.
By adopting use of improved inputs and techniques, participating farmers will be able to achieve significant productivity gains and increase their potato yields from 7 tons to 20 tons.
In June 2020, Corteva Agriscience announced its 10-year commitments to advance sustainability and increase agricultural resiliency throughout the global food system.
The company announced that it will, among other initiatives, provide tools and training for farmers to help increase yield on every hectare, profitability, optimize inputs, and improve climate resilience.
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