In an effort to help farmers improve their potato yields, Agricultural Training Centre in Oljoro Orok, Nyandarua hosted the first ever Nyandarua Potato Fair in March this year educating them on potato varieties, potato seeds, disease control, harvesting and market opportunities.
Stevenson Mwangi, one of the farmers who attended the fair has since increased his potato yields from eight to 10 tonnes per acre after choosing to grow only Dutch Robijn and Destiny potato varieties in his five acres farm in Shamata village in Nyandarua County.
“Accessing good variety, certified and clean potato seeds for planting guarantees a farmer quality potato from the farm, this is what I have been missing for years. With quality potato produce one can easily win markets,” said Mwangi.
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“I am able to harvest 10 tonnes of potatoes in one acre and my harvesting takes a week to finish the five acres giving me 50 tonnes of potatoes in one season.”
A kilo of Dutch Robijn or Destiny potatoes goes for Sh25 higher compared to other varieties which Mwangi says can go for as low as Sh15. The 50 tonnes translates to 50, 000 kilos of potato that he is able to harvest a season. This means he earns Sh1, 250, 000 translating to over Sh3, 750, 000 annually if he plants for three seasons a year.
Also, Dutch Robijn variety takes four to five months to mature compared to other varieties that may take longer. They are also moderately resistant to late blight and has a very good storage capacity due to its rounded shape. Initially, Mwangi grew potatoes regardless of the variety thus dwindling their production leading to less income which was Sh600, 000 in a season and Sh1, 180, 000 annually.
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But thanks to National Potato Council of Kenya and other agricultural stakeholders like Cooper K-Brands Ltd (CKL) which showcased and provided potato agronomic trainings he learnt that choosing the right variety of potatoes scales up farmer’s income.
In addition to this, Mwangi and other farmers have teamed up to form a group called Nyandarua Farmers’ Cooperation in 2016. This enables them to pool their produce together and sell to processing companies such as Sereni Fries, Beepa Industries and Krumle Fresh. It also helps them reduce transport cost but increase bargaining power.
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