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    High Yield

    Agricultural stakeholders led by the Kenya Health Plant Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) are set to market and promote the growing of potatoes in Kenya as a food of choice to enhance food security.

    Potato marketing will be done through potato field days set to be organized by all stakeholders in the potato sector in the country.

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    Stakeholders, who included Agrico, Kisima Farm, Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, International Potato Center, Sereni Flowers, Stokman Rosen, National Potato Council of Kenya, and Gaia Foods met on January 19th to discuss marketing of the tuber and having specific days such as 'Potato Day' where Kenyans would be sensitized on the nutritional value of potato.

    According to the National Potato Council of Kenya, Potatoes are the second most important food and cash crop after maize in Kenya. Potatoes are grown by approximately 800,000 smallholder farmers, employ 2.7m actors along the marketing channels and contribute over Sh50bn to the Kenyan economy.

    However, the productivity level of the crop stands at less than 10 tonnes per hectare vis-a-vis the maximum production of 40 tonnes which is too low if potatoes are to be primed as a significant contributor to food security. The biggest challenge faced by farmers for increased potato production is lack of certified seeds.

    Potato farmers in Kenya prefer growing Shangi, Asante, Tigoni, Kenya Mpya, Desiree, Kenya Karibu and Sherehekea varieties.

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    Potato stakeholders who attended a two day consultative forum on how to enhance potato production in Kenya at KEPHIS headquarters, Nairobi. The forum explored ways of increasing and improving potato production in Kenya to improve food security. PHOTO/KEPHIS

    The top potato producing counties are Nyandarua, Meru, Nyeri, Kiambu, Taita Taveta, Nakuru, Narok, Bomet, Elgeyo Marakwet, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, Uasin Gishu and West Pokot; other potato producing counties include Kisii, Nyamira, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Baringo, Nandi, Laikipia and Kericho.

    Upcoming potential potato producing counties include Machakos, Makueni, Embu, Kajiado, Tharaka Nithi, Samburu, Kwale and Nairobi. The leading production counties are Nyandarua (29.8 %), Nakuru (18.9 %) and Elgeyo Marakwet (16.2 %).

    Farmers countrywide harvest 60-80 bags of 110 kilograms per acre while small holder farmers harvest 30-50 bags of 110 kilograms per acre; this against a potential production of 150 bags per hectare for a 110 kilogram bag.

    “A majority of potato farmers keep recycling seeds due to inadequate availability of clean disease free potato seeds in the country,” said Maureen Mwagangi, a plant inspector at KEPHIS.

    “We certify all seed producers including smallholder farmers who produce potato seeds for sale,”

    Farmers can purchase certified potato seeds from Edward Mbugua, 0722 734 919 or Kisima farm- 0721 325 269.







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    A farmer from Naro Moru village in Nyeri County has turned to Facebook to advertise and sell Brachiaria Mulatto II hybrid grass,   a move that has enabled him to reach over 2,426 people.

    Gibson King’ori opened his Facebook page in January 2016 but only used it for posting social matters until he learnt how the platform could be used as a selling tool during a farmer’s field in the county. While there, they were trained on how to reach more customers on social media.

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    “I wondered how my Facebook friends could be my potential customers given that most of them I barely knew on a personal level but I decided to give it a try,” said King’ori.

    “I started by taking brachiaria grass photos and posting them on my account without including a caption. This brought in engagement as some asked questions while others appreciating the pictures by liking them.”

    He went an extra mile to ask friends he knew to share the photos on Facebook in a bid to reach more people. His followers increased and so did the interest in the grass.

    “When I realised more people were interested in the grass I started posting prices per split and sent messages of free delivery to those who were within 4-6km radius from my farm,” said King’ori.

    He sells a split at Sh10, a bundle of 100 splits  at Sh1000 and he can also measure them in kilograms whereby a kilo goes at Sh40.

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    Most of his customers, are livestock keepers and prefer brachiaria grass because of its high crude proteins at approximately 18 per cent, it is a drought tolerant fodder grass of up to six months, makes excellent silage and boost milk production in dairy cows and goats.

    Today King’ori can deliver his seedlings all over the country for customers who order over 100 splits. His means of delivery to people from far places such as Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru and Eldoret , is through courier services such as Wells Fargo, buses, or matatu sacco courier services.

    “I use other delivery services to reach my customers from far but for those within Central and Nairobi regions I use my car to make the deliveries,” said King’ori.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Brachiaria grass triples Siaya farmer's milk production

    To entice more buyers during the last festive season from December 1st 2017 to January 2018, he placed an offer: if a customer buys two bundles worth Sh2, 000 they would get another bundle free. This earned him Sh320, 000 as compared to Sh120, 000 he makes within two months on normal occasions.



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    Emmanuel Bankole

    Emmanuel Bankole, the founder and CEO of Agromarketplace Nigeria Limited, was voted as one of the 12 finalists in Gogettaz, a competition that involves entrepreneurs seeking financial injection and exposure for their business ventures from the entertainment company, Kwese Inc.

    Agromarketplace is an online-offline agricultural commodities platform which provides 256 farmers dealing in perishable produce, a ready market in two days.

    The platform which was founded in 2014 purchases the produce from the farmers then supplies them to over 250 agro industries across Nigeria before the produce perishes.

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    “We have so far purchased produce worth $28,000 from farmers .The produce include cashew nuts, moringa (seeds and leaves), sesame seeds, soya beans, hibiscus and ginger amongst others,” said Emmanuel.


    This entrepreneurial venture secured Emmanuel a place for those contesting for the grand prize of $100,000 and two week mentorship program with Strive Masiyiwa, the founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Global, a telecoms group with presence in over 15 countries.

    Emmanuel was inspired to start Agromarketplace after various farm visits in which he realized that approximately 75 per cent of the farmers complained of lack of ready market for their produce.

    “When I was young I often fell sick due to food related sicknesses arising from consuming stale food, this and lack of a ready market for farmers inspired me to start the company so as to help them access markets faster,” said Emmanuel.

    According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a third (1.3bn tons) of the food produced all over the world emanates from Africa. Despite this, 95 per cent of the urban dwellers, who contribute to the growth of the African economy; do not have access to fresh and healthy food.

    This is because over one billion tonnes of food which constitutes about 70 per cent of fresh farm produce rots on the farm before it reaches consumers. The continent, thus, is still a huge importer of food although it has 60 per cent of the world’s uncultivated arable land.

    Agromerchant, a subsidiary of Agromarketplace,  partners with farmers and when the  harvest is ready, farmers sell the produce online at after registering and logging in. The company may also source, package and deliver (retail and bulk supply) fresh farm produce.

    Emmanuel sends extension officers to the farms to ascertain the quantity and quality of the harvest before it is transported to the warehouse for preservation.

    The produce should be certified by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, as fresh so that it is displayed on the website for both the local and international prospective markets. 

    “We also conduct doorstep delivery services to food vendors, agro-traders, conventional schools, exporters, restaurants and consumers, this is a step aimed at helping African farmers create wealth by increasing their profitability from 30 per cent to 70 per cent and boost food security,” said Emmanuel.

    In addition to buying farmers produce online, Emmanuel is expanding Agromarketplace Nigeria Limited with two other subsidiaries; AgroHub-Initiatives and Agro-Enterprise hub.

    With FAO estimating that 233m people in Sub-Saharan Africa are hungry and malnourished, the purpose of the hubs is to train at least 25,000 to engage in agribusiness, so far they have trained approximately 400 youth and rural women in the last three years.


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