SWEET POTATO INITIATIVE

SWEET POTATO INITIATIVE


In the recent past in Kenya, the sweet potato has gained prominence due to its high level of adaptability to various growing conditions and the attendant relatively good yield return with minimal external input. Coupled with its relatively good performance in a wide range of agro- ecological zones (AEZ) across Kenya, associated health and nutritional premium as well as its relative low market price, the sweet potato is increasingly becoming a crop of choice in Kenya.  While it is, generally, considered a crop for resource poor farmers, it is gaining prominence across all demographics as a result of the afore-stated reasons.

Research and anecdotal evidence indicate that the sweet potato has great potential to boost food security and incomes at the household level. This is important in achieving one (food nutrition ad security) of the Kenya government’s Big Four Agenda (2018—2022) as well as addressing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1 and 2. Furthermore, it has been widely documented that the orange-fleshed sweet potato could play a role in combating vitamin A deficiency among children and women in Africa.

Unfortunately, all these benefits may not be realized, at least not optimally, because the sweet potato value chain remains largely underdeveloped in Kenya. The Irish potato, fast clipping at maize as Kenya’s second-most important staple has eclipsed the sweet potato, leaving it as an orphan crop. As a result, sweet potato farmers face a myriad challenges: access to clean and appropriate planting material; pests and diseases; short shelf life; poor and uncoordinated/developed markets; exploitation of farmers by brokers as a result of underdeveloped markets and the general regard for sweet potatoes as a rural people’s affair.

Realizing this high potential in the potato value chain the Kenya National Farmers’ Federation (KENAFF) in collaboration with the Andreas Hermes Akademie (AHA) is thought through a deliberate push to  structure, develop and grow a national sweet potato value chain just like other thriving value chains in the country. To achieve  this, the first step was to  mapp sweet potato value chain actors (researchers, extension workers, farmers, farmers’ cooperatives, traders, consumers, etcetera) and binging them to an initial Sweet Potato Stakeholders’ Convention. Deliberations from the workshops has guided the  subsequent steps the federation has taken  with the ultimate goal to structure a fully-fledged sweet potato VC in Kenya.

In this regard, KENAFF has organised a series of workshops at the headquater bringing together diffrent value chain actors and county leaders to have an opportunity to identify investment opportunities, constraints, areas of synergy and partnership, to network, exchange ideas, identify solutions to address challenges facing the Sweet Potato  enterprise, learn together and disseminate lessons learnt to the wider audience. 

 

 KENAFF is determined to leverage her vantage position as the umbrella farmers’ organization in Kenya to develop , nature and improve  a farmer owned and led National Sweet Potato Value Chain . Unlike other thriving value chains in Kenya,  the envisaged National S.P.V.C, will lead to an inter-linked set of impacts on the livelihoods of the of the rural poor and women including:

1) Increased income of those selling sweet potato with particular advantages for women who often take the lead in managing this crop.

 2) Reduced cost on food of those purchasing sweet potato roots and other related products; and

3) Increased utilization and enhanced nutrition for those producing and purchasing sweet potato.

Accomplishments

Achievements so far at the national levels

 

Milestones of the counties

                                                                                 

                                                                                            Core team members

 

Name

Position in the value chain

Affiliation

1.Joseph Ngaa

Producer

KENAFF Kakamega County Farmers Association

2. Tobias Muga

Marketer/processor 

Kabondo Sweet Potato Producers and Marketing Cooperative society

3. Julius Inyingi

Processor

KENAFF Meru County Farmers Association

4.  David Tiroto

Producer/processor

KENAFF Bomet County Farmers Association

5.Rosemary Ongonga

Producer

KENAFF Siaya County Farmers Association

6. John Wambugu

Producer

KENAFF Nyeri County Farmers Association

7. Ruth Kemboi

Producer

KENAFF Uasin Gishu County Farmers Association

8. Dorcas Kiplagat

Producer

KENAFF Uasin Gishu County Farmers Association

 

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