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Kenya to increase access of certified
seeds to boost potato production       

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to increase access of certified seeds to small scale farmers in order boost potato production, a senior government official said on Friday.

Mwangi Kiunjuri, the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, told an agricultural forum in Nairobi that in order for the potato sub-sector to play its rightful role in economic development, the forthcoming Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) has identified very specific interventions that include investments in potato seeds, production and multiplication.

“We want to increase supply of certified seed potato as well as strengthen certification services to small scale farmers so that we double the value of the country’s potato production that currently stands at 500 million U.S. dollars annually,” Kiunjuri said during the third Annual National Potato Conference and Trade Fair.

The daylong event was organized by the National Potato Council of Kenya which brought together policymakers and the private sector to review ways to enhance value addition in the potato sector.

The task of expanding the country’s potato production will be spearheaded by the National Potato Transformation Technical Working Group.

Kiunjuri said Kenya’s potato is dependent on the small holder farmers who contribute about 90 percent of total production.

The Ministry of Agriculture has identified potato as one of the key crops that can effectively complement maize as a driver of the food and nutrition security. 

Kiunjuri said potato is the second most important food crop after maize and is both a staple food and a cash crop for many rural and urban families.

Richard Lesiyampe, the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture said potato farmers typically get poor returns as a result of the high cost of production, uncoordinated marketing activities as well as poor road infrastructure.

Lesiyampe said the ministry of agriculture, working together with country governments and the private sector expects to make interventions in the potato value chain that includes harmonization of legislation and regulation on potato weights and measures at the retail market.  


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