In East Africa, potatoes are only second to maize as the most important crop in that region. Some 2.5 million people are employed across this value chain, worth millions of export dollars yearly. Potatoes are in high demand across the world, due to their nutritional value and the numerous by-products they can be processed into.
Kenya is a major potato producer in the region, but recently the country has slumped down the production index as farmers continue to record low production. This is attributed to the poor seed potatoes.
In what appeared to be government intervention, Sh1 million (€8,660) was spent in February as authorities distributed 18 tonnes of free seed potatoes to farmers for planting in March.
This was a welcome development, and farmers looked forward to a successful yield for the first time in many years; but sadly, their expectations have been marched with disappointment as they again recorded poor production despite the seed potatoes provided by the government.
There have been reports from different quarters as to the real reasons behind the poor harvest which according to the Nyeri County Department for Agriculture recorded only a 38 percent seed recovery rate. Reasons for the poor harvest according to some of the farmers were attributed to potato blight attack, bad weather and flooding.