Seed Potato Development in Kenya

CDI is managing a Dutch-Kenyan public-private partnership initiative to support seed potato development in Kenya. With potato being the second most important food crop in Kenya, and being an efficient growing crop, support to seed potato development is strategic for the sector’s further development, for its potential to address food security, and for its wider linkages to agribusiness development.

Potatoes – an important agribusiness sector in Kenya

Potato is the second most important food crop in Kenya, and has the ability to produce large volumes of consumable products from a small unit area. This makes the crop an attractive commodity for enhancing food supply. Nonetheless, potato yields in Kenya are low, which is mainly dedicated to a lack of good quality seed. As a result, import of high quality seed potato is essential for a short to medium-term food security perspective, since it might take up to 5-10 years before Kenya has increased its supply to the sufficient extent of fulfilling demand

Designing the project

It is against this background that the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) has requested the Netherlands to cooperate in the development of the seed potato sector in order to increase the output of certified seed. This resulted in the formulation and execution of Phase I (mid-2011 – 2012) of the Fast Track ‘Seed Potato Development in Kenya’, in which important steps have been taken by  relevant Dutch and Kenyan seed potato sector stakeholders. Based on consultations with the Ministries, Embassy, and other Dutch and Kenyan public and private sector stakeholders, Phase II (2013-2015) of the Seed Potato Project is designed and implementation has started in January 2013.

The Seed Potato Approach

The Seed Potato approach focusses on the import of Dutch seed potatoes, which is to be multiplied in Kenya with large scale professional seed growers and possibly other actors, in order to make the seed economically purchasable for small, medium and large-scale farmers. Important components of the project are its linkages to food security and gender. Crucial to the project’s approach is close Dutch-Kenyan public-private cooperation, by which Dutch seed potato expertise is combined with the know-how of local Kenyan private sector players – hence contributing to synergy and efficiency gains in the potato sector.

Four central components in Phase II

For Phase II of the Seed Potato Project, a marketing & agribusiness and a phytosanitary strategy have been formulated, focussing on how to improve the current seed potato situation in Kenya. Strategies and activities for  Phase II are built around four components:
(1)    Phytosanitary and market access support aspects
(2)    Agribusiness support aspects
(3)    Technical production and certification support aspects

(4)    Seed potato platform aspects

Foreseen outcomes

Phase II builds on two reforms as formulated by the stakeholders involved in Phase I of the project: (1) unrestricted and fast-tracked imports of Dutch seed potatoes into Kenya; and (2) following import of seed potatoes from the Netherlands, potato seed growing and multiplication will continue to be supported and carried out by commercial farmers with a proven track record, and under supervision of the stakeholders involved. A Seed Potato Platform, with corresponding website, will be established with stakeholders to share information and experiences, and  to contribute to an effective awareness and implementation by all relevant private, public, and not-for-profit actors.