Potato farmers fly with cluster model

Over 5000 households in Njabini area of Nyandarua county are recording doubling of yields, income and easier access to potato farming inputs thanks to a new model that clusters them into groups to allow economies of scale.

Dubbed Farmers Together and using the cooperative model the project clusters about 20 farmers into producer groups. The model allows farmers to collectively purchase farming inputs like potato seedlings, fertilizer and manure therefore reducing the cost and cutting out middlemen. The inputs are then lent to the farmers at a reduced price. Farmers then receive financial and agribusiness training which include developing budgets, managing their debts, and are provided with incentives for saving.

They also benefit from efficient crop management practices that allow them to increase their crops’ yields while still remaining environmentally friendly. These producer groups are also counting a doubling of yields on their plots through a crop rotation schedule that accounts for climate patterns and market changes.

Combined with collective harvesting schedule, this has enabled the different groups to harvest their crops at the same time, thus cost effectively reaching wholesalers directly, reducing the intermediaries, and providing a much higher profit margin for the farmers.

One of the initial women trained and equipped for the farm project was Lucy Wanjiku. She and her husband had moved to Njabini after her home in Rift Valley was burned down and her three children were killed during Kenya’s post-election violence in 2008.

A local entrepreneur, Tom Mwangi, who had grown up in the small community, was integral in selecting the participating farmers and running the project itself.

Mwangi had contacts and knowledge about the local agricultural economy. The two worked together on some projects and became friends. He is now the organization’s director.