P.O.Box 51122- 00100 GPO, Nairobi +254 701 563 937 info@pafidkenya.org

Transforming potato farming through CSA

Making over ksh112,000 from 0.5 acres 

With over 39,000 Ha under potato cultivation, Nakuru County accounts for 30% of potato production according to the National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK). An average farmer produces 6 – 8 tons per acre but with the adoption of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) it is possible to increase this to 10 – 15 tons per acre.

FtMA Interventions

Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA), a consortium of agri-focused organizations led by World Food Programme (WFP), has been active in Kenya since 2017. FtMA developed the Farmer Service Centre model to improve smallholder farmer value chains and create linkages between farmers and the private sector. Since 2020 Participatory Approaches for Integrated Development (PAFID) have been training farmers in Conservation Agriculture (CA).

Mr. Michael Sang Tesot is a potato farmer and operates an FSC in Kuresoi North Sub County, Nyota Ward, Mwahe Village. Since being trained by PAFID in CA, and understanding the benefits, he has been championing the cause of CA by training other farmers and causing them to convert from conventional disc ploughing to Minimum Tillage CA.

CA causes less environmental impact than conventional tillage practices and by breaking the hardpan - a hard, sub-surface layer of soil, caused by repetitive disc ploughing and impenetrable to both water and roots – increases rainwater infiltration and root penetration giving plants access to soil nutrients stored below the hardpan. CA preserves the soil structure hence improving soil water retention capacity, reduces soil erosion and improves soil health by increasing soil organic matter causing increased soil biological activities.

After applying fertilizer in CA minimum tillage rip lines and covering it with a layer of soil, Mr. Tesot surface planted certified potato seed at the optimal spacing to achieve maximum yield. He then covered the potato seed with a layer of soil, creating a furrow between the planting lines. Surface planting of potato seed is a CA system specifically developed by the FtMA programme, reducing farmer costs and increasing their yields. The furrows created by covering the seed act to store water.

 

Conclusion

According to yield data results, it is clear that CA in potatoes is possible and the right direction to take for Kenyan potato farmers to take steps toward increased productivity and food security. “Hiyo disc hatuitaki huku, inatuharibia mashamba.” Mr. Tesot stated. “I wish I had put all my potato fields under conservation agriculture”.

 

For more information on how to grow potatoes under CA call Hannington Magero Tel: 0726436261 Or Josphat Musenze Tel: 072725889

 

 

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