Potato has underexploited potential to contribute to food security and incomes among Kenyan smallholders. This project builds on the past work of the International Potato Center (CIP) to increase the current low levels of productivity.
It focuses on building the skills of farmers and other stakeholders to apply good agricultural practices and increase the availability of quality planting materials.
The complexity of potato farming systems in Kenya requires a multi-faceted approach to overcome the main productivity constraints. Aligned to the government of Kenya’s national potato strategy—designed to develop the
crop and its value chain—the project takes an ‘innovation site’ approach that brings together research, extension and other stakeholders, with farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange maximized through the establishment of farmer field and business schools.
Capacity-building for agricultural extension officers and lead farmers includes training on the innovative ‘rooted cutting’ multiplication technology, which is a fast, cost effective way to produce quality seed potato. In addition, this technology could form the basis for new farmer-based enterprises.
Lead farmers interested in establishing certified seed potato production businesses are also identified. These entrepreneurs are given training on appropriate technologies and business skills.
CIP will establish at least 32 innovation sites over the duration of the project (ending in August 2020) to demonstrate newly released varieties, seed management strategies, fertilizer application, pest and disease management, organic farming, improved crop rotation and the rooted cutting multiplication technology to around 1,500 farmers.
The innovation sites host field days, where farmers receive training, share knowledge and contribute their ideas. At least 3,680 smallholders will receive training on good agricultural practices for growing potato. Farmer field and business schools provide an important pathway for dissemination of new ideas and approaches to the wider farming community.
The goal is for farmers to develop their capacity, so they are able to produce 25% of their seed potato requirements by saving quality seed tubers on their own farms.