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    Bomet County potato farmer shows just-harvested potatoes. Smallholder farmers interested in contract farming are encouraged to register with NPCK in groups of five to ten.

    More than 5000 potato farmers in Kenya are opting to sign production contracts with food processing companies in order to get quality and certified seeds for free rather than buying them from agrovets .The number of these farmers is expected to rise to 23, 000 by 2020

    With these contracts, farmers are able to get top-notch seeds, fertilizer and agronomical services that enable them to produce good and quality potatoes that meet market demand.

    RELATED STORY: Some 23,000 potato farmers to access markets

    To shield farmers from unscrupulous businessmen who might use the opportunity to deprive them of their full benefits, National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK) oversees the contract between food processors and the farmers.

    “We encourage farmers to register for free with NPCK from where we oversee, review and approve the contract between them and the buyers (food companies) ensuring it is fair for both,” said Wachira Kaguongo, head of NPCK.

    NPCK and other actors in the potato production sector introduced East African Potato Consortium in 2016 through which farmers are contracted. The main aim was to increase private investment in agriculture by linking potato farmers with food processors across the country according to Kaguongo.

    RELATED STORY: Potato farming transforming lives of thousands of Kenyan smallholder farmers

    “Food processing companies prefer potatoes with good floury cooking texture and excellent dry matter content for use on chips and crisps hence farmers need good potato variety not susceptible to diseases and of good breed for planting,” said Peter Kariuki who works in the value chain department at NPCK.


    Besides the access to certified seeds, fertilizer and agronomical training on potato farming, contracted farmers are also sure of market and steady price in case of market fluctuations.

    RELATED STORY:Collective bargaining helps farmers’ cooperative earn 2bn from potato farming

    “Contract farming allows farmers to sell potatoes to food companies directly getting their money at the agreed time. Besides, selling to food companies means they earn more money than when selling their produce in the open-air-markets,” said Kariuki.

    According to the National Farmers Information Service (NAFIS), the price of a kilogram of potato costs Sh22 in the open-air-markets while food processors by the same measure at Sh45. This is double what farmers can get in the open-air-markets.


    According to Kariuki, smallholder farmers who want to get into contract farming must be in groups of five to 10 in order for NPCK to register them.

    RELATED STORY: Potato farmers fly with cluster model

    “Food processors need potato supplies in tonnes. This may not be achieved by individual farmers who own small plots of land unless they team up to meet the high demand.”

    In case of limited production, farmers are bound to supply all their potatoes to the food companies to reach the demand in the agreement. This leave poor families who rely on the remains or the surplus with nothing to feed on.

    The small traders dealing in potatoes such as ‘mama mboga’ are also forced to close down their shops due to lack of supply.







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    Kenya Breweries Limited, the manufacturer of Kenya’s branded beer, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages is set to contract 30,000 farmers to provide the produce to its Kisumu plant which intends to begin operations in 1st July 2018.

    According to a report published by United States Department of Agriculture, Kenya’s sorghum production increased from 140,000 metric tonnes in 2016 to 150,000 metric tonnes in 2017, representing an increase of 7.14 per cent.

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    Sorghum is a crop used in making beer and is preferred to barley due to its drought resistance. The crop has a well-developed rooting system and the ability to roll up its leaves during the hot weather thus making it tolerant to harsh weather.

    “We hope to contract 30,000 farmers from Siaya, Kisumu, Busia, Homa Bay, and Migori counties to supply the first batch of 15,000 tonnes of sorghum to begin with” said Jane Karuku, Kenya Breweries Managing Director.

    “As we continue to expand our operations, we will contract 15,000 more farmers in the next five years to supply the crop”

    The managing director was speaking on January 17th at Nyakach, Kisumu County during a farmer’s sensitization workshop aimed at educating prospective farmers on the best farming practices of the crop so as to maximize yields.

    “With this project, we expect farmers’ earnings to increase from the current Sh2.2b to Sh6b annually over the next decade” said Jane.


    A farmer holding a gadam sorghum head

    The plan is also set to reduce illicit brew consumption in Kenya from the current 50 per cent to less than 20 per cent over the next five years as more Kenyans will be encouraged to consume more branded safe beers.

    In Kenya, sorghum does well in areas 1500m above sea level receiving an average annual rainfall of 420 to 630mm per annum. These areas include but are not limited to western Kenya, Nyanza region, Eastern and some parts of the Coast region.

    The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) is promoting the cultivation of high quality sorghum varieties such as gadam for beer production. According to the research firm, gadam can produce yields of up to 25 to 35 bags per acre. Dobbs sorghum variety is suitable for areas around Lake Victoria and matures within four months. Other varieties include serena, E1291, E6518 and Ikinyaruka.

    Sorghum seeds can be prepared by threshing dry heads of the crop after harvesting. Land preparation is usually done at the end of rains but planting is done at the onset of rains. The seeds should be planted on a firmly prepared seed bed with a spacing of 60 by 15 cm.

    The crop usually grows well without the use of fertilizers but can respond well to the application of farm yard manure on moist soils. In the early stages of growth, weeds need to be controlled frequently for well establishment of the crop.

    The most common pests and diseases affecting sorghum include the stem borers, sorghum shoot fly and leaf blight which can be controlled by early planting and disposal of affected plants.

    With good crop husbandry practices, sorghum can yield up to 3000kg per hectare with one kilo earning Sh33 meaning farmers can fetch Sh99,000 per ha per season.

    Kenya Breweries Ltd can be reached on +254 711 018000 


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    A new improved kienyeji kuroiler chicken breed is now available in the market for prospective poultry farmers. Olnjoro poultry farm in Thika is selling a two week old vaccinated chick for Sh400.

    The breed matures faster, in four and half months and is highly resistant to perennial poultry diseases such as Newcastle.

    According to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Newcastle Disease is a major constraint to indigenous chicken productivity in Kenya and often causes 80 to 100 per cent mortality in unvaccinated flocks.


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    The breed was derived from crossing coloured broiler male with Rhodes Island red females or white leghorn males crossed with female Rhodes Island red, hence unique and stronger genetic feature to maneuver contemporary chicken diseases. 

    “Kuroiler meat is of high quality and tasty compared to the local kienyeji bird. Its eggs have deep yellow york that is tasty and appetizing” said Michael Njoroge Riunge, the team leader at Olnjoro poultry farm.

    Poultry farmers intending to rear this type of breed will fetch the bird’s eggs earlier in four and half months compared to approximately eight months for other breeds. For kuroilers, the farmers will earn from the meat in just three and half months.


    Kuroiler chicken breed

    The bird is highly economical to rear as it can fit into the free range system where it can scavenge for their own food hence can be kept by low-income households due to their low demand unlike exotic breeds.

    To maintain this breed, one day old chicks should be vaccinated against mareks by applying the vaccine under the skin. On the 10th and 18th days of the birds’ age, doses of vaccination against gumboro disease should be applied via drinking water. In hot areas, the birds need to be protected against fowl pox after three weeks and six weeks in other areas. To control Newcastle disease, vaccinate every three months and at point of lay for layers.

    Olnjoro poultry farm will conduct training for poultry farmers on Saturday 20th Jan 2018 starting at 10am at their demo farm opposite Blue Post Hotel Thika Town.

    Topics to be covered include:

    1. Introduction to poultry world.
    2. Selecting a poultry business niche.
    3. Chicken breed selection and why.
    4. Capital requirements and business plan.
    5. Poultry housing.
    6. Poultry equipment.
    7. Cutting costs methods and making own feeds.
    8. Poultry health, vaccination and disease control.
    9. Market, product and price analysis.
    10. Return on investment.
    11. Risks and challenges.
    12. Practical Farm Visit.

    Prospective poultry farmers can contact Michael on 0773889309 / 0728553292 or visit




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