For a long time potato growers in Nyandarua County have faced many challenges. Some of these setbacks include use of outdated practices, poor storage and unclear regulations on pricing and weighing regulations.
This situation is however changing for the better with some farmers already reaping big from reforms in the subsector.
Apart from embracing modern farming practices and improving storage of the produce, farmers are now immensely benefitting from the recently implemented 50kg bag regulations.
The growers are selling a 50-kg bag of the produce at Sh2,500 up from Sh500 between September and December last year.
“I am attributing the introduction and enforcement of the new potato regulations to better returns. The buyers often took advantage of lack of weight regulatory laws to exploit the farmer,” says Faith Wangari, a farmer from Kinangop Constituency.
Her sentiments are shared by Janet Njambi, a farmer from Ol Kalou Constituency, who is also happy with the good returns.
“I am among the farmers that benefited from the county government initiative on modern farming practices and storage. The project has improved production per acre. Through better storage skills, I was able to keep my produce waiting for a better market,” says Ms Njambi.
Over the years, Ms Njambi harvested between 15 bags and 20 bags of potato from an acre piece of land. Her production has tremendously increased to between 80 bags and 100 bags per acre.
She says improved yields and market has motivated her to lease three additional acres to boost her returns.
“I was nearly giving up on potato growing due to declining production and exploitation by brokers who determined the size of the bag and price. The biggest challenge leading to poor production was over- recycling of seeds, a challenge that was addressed through training on how to develop own quality seeds,” says Ms Njambi.
Njaramba Kiarie says supply and access to certified seeds has changed after the National Youth Service Tumaini Farm in Mirangine Sub-county opened doors to farmers early in the year.
“The biggest challenge hurting growers is high costs of fertilisers. The subsidised fertiliser programme initiated by the county government is not enough to meet the farmer demand,” says Mr Kiarie.