An association dedicated to forest conservation in Kenya is earning a minimum of Sh10, 000 daily from making potato chips.
Kathioro community forest association, which has 4,008 members main purpose is to conserve a section of Mt. Kenya forest in Nyeri County in collaboration with the ministry of Environment and Natural Resources but owing to the available land in the forest, the members led by their Chairman Moses Kithiria asked the ministry to allow them plant potatoes as they conserved the forest.
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“When we were given the green light, each member contributed Sh200 and we planted Irish potatoes for sale on roughly 10 acres of land, that was in 2011.We harvested 49500 kgs and sold a 90 kg bag of the produce at Sh3000 to Sh3500 depending on market demand. Profits accrued from the sale were saved for future investments as agreed by members,” said Moses.
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“In 2015 we decided to venture into potato value addition to enable us to make more money and improve our livelihoods. We bought several machines used to make chips at a cost of Sh3.2 million from our own savings.”
Once they harvest the potatoes from the farm,they sort them out into different grades. Grade one are those with medium size and grade two are the big ones, grade three are those with injuries which are eliminated.
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After sorting, the potatoes are then washed thoroughly then put into the potato peeler removing the skin leaving the soft inner core. The potatoes are then washed again and sliced into small pieces then dried before being poured into the cooking oil where it takes an average of 10 to 15 minutes to cook.
When Farmbiz Africa visited their stand at the 2017 Nyeri National Show, the association members were busy peeling and chopping potatoes to make chips. Other members were busy serving pupils and various attendees with chips. They sold each plate of chips at sh50 attracting a large number of hungry participants.
Moses Kithiria, the chairman of Kathioro Forest Association serving chips to customers at the 2017 Nyeri National Show at Kabiruini grounds, Nyeri
On a good day especially on farmers’ field days and agricultural shows, the association makes up to sh10, 000. The profits, Moses says, have been used to improve roads in Kabiruini village, Nyeri County.
“We have managed to upgrade about 21 feeder roads which were previously impassable each time it rained in our village since 2015 The improved roads have enabled other farmers’ access markets within Nyeri County faster thereby earning more income,” said Moses
Moses can be reached on +254 720 175 604