July 24,2018, Nairobi. The fortunes of potato farmers in East Africa got a boost last May when BASF and GIZ joined hands to promote potato productivity by addressing the challenges across the value chain.
This will see farmers adopt BASF’s crop protection solutions introduced through farmer-field days and business schools.
The technologies will help to address potato diseases and especially early and late blight that are a big menace to potato production and which can reduce yields by more than 90% if not checked.
BASF is providing personal protection equipment or professional farmer kits that promote safe use of pesticides. Farmers are taken through training on how to use the products and to appreciate the benefits of timely crop protection. The company is also supporting GIZ by offering technical training to Ward Agricultural extension officers from the ministry of agriculture through a trainer-oftrainers’ approach.
This is expected to contribute to the GIZ-ran project called NutritionSensitive Potato Partnership Project that is aimed at enabling farmers to address challenges in potato productivity.
Potato is the second most important food crop after maize. It is grown by about 800,000 small holder farmers in Kenya and contributes greatly to food security, poverty eradication and economic development.
The subsector employs about 2.7 million people and contributes over Ksh50 billion shillings to the Kenyan economy. However, productivity is only 25% of the potential 40 tons per hectare which has resulted in low earning.Raising productivity is hindered by inappropriate use of inputs, low use of certified seeds, inadequate crop rotation and little on-farm value addition. However, there is hope that the GIZ project that is directed at promoting nutrition-sensitive potato value chains in East Africa will assist farmers address challenges by utilizing the potential of potato value chains in Kenya and Uganda together with relevant private and public actors.
One of the project’s components seeks to impart knowledge on good agricultural practices (GAP) to 12,000 small-scale potato farmers in Nyandarua and Bungoma counties through farmer training and aims at improving farm productivity by 40%. The International Potato Center (CIP) is also a key partner in the project.
The CIP is involved in training seed multipliers and establishing farmer learning or innovation sites in the two counties. IVarious innovations are demonstrated and farmers trained in the sites. in addition, BASF has provided products for demonstration at the innovation centers; Orvego and Acrobat for blights control, Basagran for weed control and Fastac for the control of cut worms.