By Martin Wakaba – an entrepreneur who has several startup projects
Bilateral agreements have the power to propel the financial awareness and capacity of farmers towards the right direction. Critically, bilateral agreements can change the fortunes of any personality involved in the relevant sectors through the provision of necessary equipments and resources. This is what potato farmers in Kenya are staring at after a reported deal between the Scottish and the Kenyan governments. Reliability of potato seeds have been the subject of research as authorities aspire to phase out the less-reliant farm-saved seeds with those that are resistant to diseases. As one of the countries in Africa with the largest acreage dedicated to potato planting, alongside Ethiopia and Uganda, Kenya has the potential to use the deal in a manner that improves the source of food and income generation. The resultant makeover means that the Scottish entities will have access to the potatoes’ seed market in Kenya, thereby translating into an estimated six billion in terms of financial might. For ages, KARI (Kenya Agricultural Research Institute) has been trying to come up with potato seeds that have a reliable edge to wade off the threats brought about by infections and bouts of re-infection. However, the various programmes by the institute have never been totally embraced by the farmers.
The market demand for potatoes in Kenya keeps on escalating and this would be a significant aspect for the Scottish in that they can have a positive impact as regards the percentage of potatoes grown from certified seeds. Currently, a feeble two percent in Kenya accounts for the potatoes grown from seeds that have been certified – the situation means that the remaining ninety eight percent is exposed to recurrence of diseases and quality reduction. Significantly, the deal aims at improving the yield and the crop health of potatoes thereby offering a platform for small-scale farmers to earn revenue from their produce through future opening of exportation. As one of the most important food crops in Kenya, the other being maize, potatoes have the capacity to change the economic fortunes of farmers in that it is grown in most regions among them Meru, Nakuru, Trans-Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Bungoma, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Nyeri, Taita-Taveta, Kiambu, Narok, Bomet, Nyandarua and West Pokot.
As a commodity that has been ignored for the better part of the last two decades, coffee farming has undergone unprecedented lows thereby inflicting heavy losses on farmers partly due to logistical challenges and union debts. However, the fortunes seem to have changed for the better after a business delegation from Estonia toured several coffee societies in Nyeri County, with an aim to establish direct sales between them. In reality, the Estonian delegation carried some samples of coffee from these societies for research purposes and to ascertain the quality. Being one of the countries in the world with a high-grade produce of coffee, Kenya boasts a huge potential that can be harnessed through interrelations with interested governments. After a meeting between the Estonian business delegation, Nyeri County government officials and the representatives of the coffee farmers, enthusiasm can return to the coffee farmers, with the knowledge that a direct form of sales between the involved entities could lead to increased revenue. Moreover, the situation offers more opportunities to the hordes of coffee farmers in Nyeri County and in other parts of the country by marketing the Kenyan coffee in international forums.