Low potato productivity and poor quality yields continue to persist in potato subsector mainly because of low access and use of appropriate farm inputs. Quality seed potato is among the critical inputs that farmers experience a challenge in accessing. This is partly attributed to the long distance between majority of the small scale potato farmers and the few seed potato merchants in the country. Also, being small scale famers, the quantities most farmers need are relatively low (per farmer) and at times uneconomical for them to transport the seeds from the producers. This is further compounded by the fact that seed potatoes are very bulky and delicate.
In efforts to address this, NPCK and partners developed Viazi Soko digital Platform. The platform provides an efficient way for purchasing quality farm inputs and services. Its capabilities include; inquiring about seed potato availability, booking and ordering. With close collaboration with seed companies, NPCK is able to relay information to them about the orders made through Viazi Soko Digital Platform. Further, farmer orders from a particular region are pooled and delivered by a logistical company at an already agreed collection points. This reduces the unit transportation cost by a farmer due to economies of scale. Other inputs and services available on the platform include potato specific fertilizers, approved agrochemicals, spray services, soil testing and mechanization services, accurate weather forecast, extension and advisory services, pest and disease advisory services. The platform can be accessed through a Web-based portal (www.npckviazisoko.com), downloadable Android App (NPCK Viazisoko) and USSD short code services (*483*331#). Ordering and delivery is ongoing. So far, over 2,600 bags of 50kg certified seeds have been ordered through the platform and delivered to famers this season.