In East Africa, Potato is only second to Maize as the most important crop in that region. It employs an estimated 2.5 Million people across its value chain and rakes in millions of dollars yearly from export. Potato is in high demand across the world due to its nutritional value and the numerous by-products which it can be processed into.
Kenya is a major producer of Potato in the region but recently, the country had slumped down the production index as farmers continue to record low production - this attributed to the poor seed potatoes been cultivated.
In what appeared to be an intervention by the government, Sh1 million was spent in February as authorities distributed 18 tonnes of free seed potatoes to farmers for planting in March - towards harvest in August/September harvesting season.
This was a welcome development as the 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 government which was certified to be of high quality; but what could have gone wrong?
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.
The department also claimed that potatoes were planted on 22.5 acres of land by the 64 farmer groups which benefited from the exercise, although these statistics were debunked by some media agencies who claim the exercise involved some sharp practices on the part of the government which could have led to the poor harvest.
Reasons for the poor harvest according to some of the farmers were attributed to potato blight attack, bad weather, and flooding.
Potato farmers and employees in the production chain will be envious of their counterparts involved in the maize production - which has continued to record increased yield, and they can only wait for governments next point of action in revamping potato production in the country.
An intervention which they hope will come sooner than later.