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Nakuru, Kiambu included in Irish potato scheme

Irish potatoes
Farmers harvest Irish potatoes at a farm in Tapach South Pokot, in West Pokot County in 2018. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL 

The Irish embassy in Kenya is looking to increase the number of counties under the Potato Building Sector Project — that seeks to raise smallholder farmer yields — to include Nakuru and Kiambu.

The pilot programme, which kicked off in 2018 in the expansive Nyandarua County, has so far trained more than 2,500 farmers in new farming techniques.

It sought to provide farmers with comprehensive supply chain from seed varieties, extension services to market linkages.

In an interview with the Business Daily, Ireland ambassador to Kenya Fionnuala Quinlan said Dublin will first have to first prove the concept before it can be rolled out.

“The model is still in the trial phase in the county, but once we have an absolute model that we can apply in other areas then we will scale-up,” Mrs Quinlan said.

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She added there a number of counties suitable for potato cultivation had expressed interested in the project.

They include Narok, West Pokot, Murang’a, Meru, Nakuru and Baringo.

“The implementation of the initiative in other counties will definitely improve farmers’ yields and incomes.”

“If you can make a difference in the agricultural field then that will go a long way in impacting the economy since it employs about two-third of Kenya’s population and it forms one-third of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” she added.

She noted the country’s various counties are well-suited to potato growing thanks to its favourable altitude.

She added Ireland already has food companies and supermarket chains that are working with farmers in the value-chain.

“We chose the county (Nyandarua) as a trial since it produces about 30 percent of the country’s potato production,” she said

According to statistics Kenya produces around 20 to 30 thousand hectares of potatoes annually.

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