A potato seedling multiplication plant will soon be established in Nyandarua, the County Government has announced.
Speaking when he announced the deal, His Excellency Governor Francis Kimemia said research had confirmed that only two percent of Nyandarua’s residents plant clean potato seeds.
“We will begin by increasing this figure up to 10 per cent through clean seed production,” he said.
Nyandarua County produces 30 per cent of potatoes in the Kenyan market.
However, potato production has dropped due to lack of certified seeds, declining soil fertility, climate change, high input costs, pests and diseases, marketing constraints, poor pricing, a strained cropping calendar and exploitative packaging.
“With the right pillars in place, we will not only push forward the vision of food security and cushion Kenyans from continually rising cereal prices, but also improve the economic welfare of our potato farmers as we contribute to Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product,” said Governor Kimemia.
During campaigns ahead of the General Election on August 8th, 2017, the Governor and his deputy, Her Excellency (Mrs.) Cecilia Mbuthia had pledged to re-establish agriculture as the dominant component of Nyandarua’s economy through research, subsidized farm inputs, mechanisation, value addition, and best practices.
Under the memorandum of understanding signed by the two entities today, the European Union (EU) will contribute Kshs. 120 million towards the project.
“Funds from the EU will facilitate buying of equipment, training of personnel, and construction of a laboratory as well as green houses,” said Mr. Edward Mwale, a consultant with the African Union, who was part of the EU delegation.
Overall, the project – a continuation of an initiative began by immediate-former Governor His Excellency Waithaka Mwangi – is expected to result into efficient land utilization, subsidized fertilizers, access to affordable clean seeds, and ease access to local to and international markets.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has already promised a large, cold room storage plant to leverage on the marketability of Nyandarua’s potatoes.
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SIDEBAR – AGRICULTURE DEVELOPMENT IN NYANDARUA COUNTY
– Low returns due to price fluctuations and information asymmetry on markets.
– Low quality, exploitative non-standard packaging.
– Traditional farming methods.
– Lack of value addition on agricultural produce.
– Lack of adequate support and extension services.
– To establish cold storage, warehousing, and drying silos to cater for seasonality, regulate demand and supply of farm produce and protect farmers from seasonal price fluctuations.
– Establish benchmarked quality control, weights and measures to standardize packaging of local products like potatoes, peas, carrots, beetroots, cabbages, kales and French beans and other horticultural produce.
– Use contracted farming with guaranteed markets and use mechanization starting with County tractor hire services that will charge farmers for tillage/ploughing services at low costs.
– Invest in value addition and agro-industries supported by a strong distribution system with dry/warehouse and cold chain facilities with priority in potatoes / horticulture and dairy sectors.
– Introduction of high-value crops to complement existing food crops that include sugar beets, giant bamboo, pyrethrum and orchards.
– Enhance access to farm inputs and subsidized services like cattle dips and artificial insemination services without distortion of markets.
– To create a pool of integrated extension services in quality control, research, demonstrations, and advisory services by professional extension officers.
– Establish irrigation systems in the highly productive dry lowlands to reduce dependence on rain-fed agriculture.
– Encourage soil testing and its integration with weather data to determine the best crops for each region.
– Diversity farming through collaboration with research institutions to commercialize new and adaptable breeds in crop and animal husbandry, and aquaculture / fisheries.
Source: Pillar Five of His Excellency Governor Francis Kimemia’s Manifesto (2017-2022)