The government will launch the 23 billion shillings National Agriculture Value Chain Development Project in July this year aimed at improving neglected value chains like potato, pyrethrum, coffee and cotton.
The Cabinet Secretary (CS) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives (CS), Peter Munya, said that rolling out the project would be easy as the money is already available, all the negotiations have been carried out and the signing of the necessary instruments to access the money carried out. .
Munya said work remained to be done with counties to begin rolling out the programs under the project, which would largely focus on value chain marketing, market linkages, agricultural infrastructure development, the granting of credit to farmers as well as the supply of quality and affordable agricultural inputs. .
Speaking at Kilimo House on Friday at the inauguration of the National Potato Task Force, Munya said potato is one of the key crops to be supported by this project as a strategic crop that would play a major role in improving food security under the “Big Four” governments. ” Agenda.
The SC pointed out that in the tea sector, they will mostly take care of old tea trees that are no longer productive and replace them with the help of tea research institutes.
“Cotton is very important because it has the potential to transform the drier parts of the country. We have done a lot of work in the value chain, including the approval of BT cotton which we have already started the process of marketing across the country,” Munya said.
To meet the challenge of trying to acquire seeds from other countries, Munya said they asked the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) to come up with our own varieties of high-breed cotton that would also apply to other value chains so that as a country we are self-sufficient and food secure.
“Kenya relies primarily on its agriculture for its socio-economic development and progress. On average, agriculture directly contributes more than 25% of GDP and 45% of government revenue. Furthermore, it employs 18% and 70% of formal and informal jobs in Kenya respectively,” Munya said.
He pointed out that potato cultivation is the second most important food crop in Kenya after maize and is grown by nearly one million smallholder farmers. 90% of potatoes are grown on small farms on less than half an acre of land.
Munya said it employs about three million people across the value chain and contributes nearly 50 billion shillings to the economy.
“In Kenya, it is one of the most widely consumed commodities, acting as both a staple food and a cash crop, and its production has increased rapidly due to increased urbanization and fast food industries,” did he declare.
Munya explained that the potato value chain is currently grown in more than 15 counties with the leader being Nyandarua followed by Elgeyo Marakwet. However, it has faced many challenges, including low yields widely attributed to climate change, poor agronomic practices, low application of inputs, especially fertilizers, low soil fertility, limited access to good quality seeds and abusive and unstructured marketing.
“To reverse this situation, my department has initiated and taken several measures including the formulation and roll out of the Crops (Irish Potato) Regulations 2019 to create an enabling environment for the development of the apple value chain. earthen. The potato regulations further aim to support the development of the potato value chain by generating accurate market information to guide planning and investment, providing farmers with advisory services in targeted production to meet market standards for products that are safe and can be marketed locally, regionally and internationally,” the CS said.
Munya said that to continue the concerted efforts in promoting and developing the potato value chain, it was deemed necessary to establish and operationalize the National Potato Task Force to accelerate progress in this value chain and safeguard farmers’ livelihoods amidst a complex business environment.
Acting Chief Executive of the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), Beatrice Nyamwamu, said the authority supports good farming practices across the potato value chain to ensure that potatoes that reach consumers are free from pesticides and other contaminants and ultimately this would lead to a low health cost to consumers.
Nyamwamu said he has deployed food inspectors across the country and at border points who support enforcement of regulations to improve compliance.
“The authority is in the process of establishing a data bank for all potato growers through a digital registry that will have the regional breakdown of farmers with the information helping to make decisions regarding subsidy programs as it will have details of location of carpenters, size of land and production,” Nyamwamu said.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a