Self Help Africa awarded Vehicle and Equipment Leasing Limited (VAELL) a grant of EUR 449,150 (Kes. 51,684,269.36) to support potato mechanization in Narok County. The grant is part of Self Help Africa’s AgriFI Kenya Challenge Fund. The firm joins other 15 institutions which qualified for the awards out of 300 applications for the AgriFi Kenya Challenge. The leasing firm through its agricultural arm, TingA, has been aiding farmers in various parts of the country mechanize their farms from land preparation, tillage, ploughing, weeding all the way to harvesting with no manual work involved. This has led to 300% harvest increase and 90% decrease in post-harvest losses.

The project co-financed by the European Union and SlovakAid through its action fund coordinator Self Help Africa, will help in construction of potato cold storage facility to end post-harvest loses as well as boost their efforts in potato farm mechanization to boost production. The fund is going to help in building the capacity of smallholder farmers to practise environmentally sustainable and climate smart agriculture (CSA) as a business in inclusive chains. More than 10,000 farmers are expected to benefit from the initiative that is designed to make farmers woes a thing of the past.

The grant is aimed at increasing smallholder potato farmers’ income through an integrated value chain approach. Due to the semi-arid nature of the county, farmer training and mechanization services will focus strongly on conservation agriculture techniques, especially conservation tillage.

We support potato farm mechanization across East Africa

Working with VAELL through TingA across county, the AgriFI Kenya Challenge Fund grant will help farmers to modernise and harness the full economic, employment and export potential of agriculture.

At the moment potato is the third most popular food in Kenya besides maize and banana. With the increase in population and shortage of maize in Kenya, most players in the sector are encouraging potato farming as a sure bet to food security.

This year alone, TingA, East Africa’s largest network of farm equipment, is reported to have trained more than 3000 farmers across the country. The lessor in association with its other partners has been sensitizing and training farmers on modern potato farming technique. The farm equipment renter works with farmers associations which help them to bring together the farmers. The institutions through project in Meru County, Laikipia and now Narok among other places has changed the way potato farming is done in Kenya.

Low farm-gate prices due to lack of potato storage facilities has contributed to significant losses incurred in the informal supply chain. The absence of cold storage facilities in the region exposes farmers to untold post-harvest losses. Once we build this resource which will be the first facility in the entire region of its own kind, farmers can delay the sale of their potatoes after four months and sell them for up to 50-100% above the market price at their convenience rather than selling them at throw away prices during the harvest seasons. This will also curb exploitation of potato farmers by brokers and cartels.

In the arrangement, as storage service supplier, the company will assist farmers to find market through market linkages. The funds will also be used to help smallholder farmers access certified potato seeds, credit and marketing services. Ms. Mvati said that it has been hard for farmers to get good quality seeds that can guarantee optimum harvest.

Good harvests don’t just come. As we have done before we will ensure that farmers in Narok access certified seeds from our other partners to improve production. We have been actually guiding farmers through the entire potato production cycle by ensuring that they abide by the planting, weeding, spraying, fertilizer application, earthing up and all related activities including harvesting and selling of the harvests. This is an addition to our efforts in enhancing food security and job creation among the young people and women.

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