Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi is banking on Canadian investors to increase potato production and processing in the region.
The governor, accompanied by agriculture executive Prof Karwitha Kiugu and her trade counterpart Maingi Mugambi, have been on a tour of Canada to woo investors in agro-processing.
According to government data, Canada produces 4.5 million tonnes of potatoes every year with 66 per cent of the produce going to processing.
In 2016, the North American nation exported potatoes and potato products worth 1.6 billion Canadian dollars (Sh122 billion).
Meru county produces more than 196,000 tonnes annually in about 17,000ha of land but most of the produce is sold raw.
The sector was valued at more than Sh5 billion in 2016.
Mr Murungi said they held fruitful talks with Canadian experts and processors to boost potato farming and value addition in Meru.
The governor said he engaged McCain Foods (a multinational potato processor), Guelph University and the Fredericton Research and Development Centre, which focuses on potato research.
“We held fruitful discussions with senior staff at McCain Foods on the possibility of McCain Foods and my government partnering to help local potato farmers improve their farming and livelihoods.
"I also held very fruitful discussions with Guelph University officials on possible collaboration in research and marketing of agricultural produce and tourism in Meru,” Mr Murungi stated.
He said they were in talks with the processors to adopt processing of potatoes using affordable technologies.
“We agreed with the companies to explore ways of supporting our farmers to grow potato varieties that have a high market demand,” he said.
The Meru county boss said it was possible to store potatoes for more than one year using techniques from Canadian farmers.
Meru County Investment and Development Corporation has been in talks with an investor who is interested in setting up a potato processing plant in Timau.
The county recently helped farmers establish seven cooperatives to manage production while a potato union will oversee processing and marketing of the produce.
Mr Murungi said SEMEX Centre which focuses on improvement of livestock production in Canada will provide experts to help Meru dairy farmers improve on animal husbandry.