Potato (Solanum tuberosum L) is an important food and cash crop in Kenya. It plays a key role in contributing towards food and nutrition security, poverty eradication and employment creation. The potato consumption is growing tremendously and this is attributed to urbanization and population growth. Increased consumption can also be attributed to changing consumer tastes and preferences towards consuming value added products such as chips, canned potatoes, potato flour, crisps, animal feeds, potato starch and potato-based alcohol.
Despite the growth and demand associated with the value added products, still there is a challenge of market for Ware Potato. This is due to exploitation of small scale potato farmers, who form the majority in terms of production, by brokers.
To address the above mentioned challenges, NPCK supported by GIZ, CIP and other partners came up with an upgraded Viazi Soko app; which is a digital platform used both by farmers and other stakeholders in the potato value chain to help in access to ware potato through booking. The app will also be addressing challenges of seed, suitable inputs and even extension services at affordable costs.
Viazi soko digital platform has proven to be very effective in supporting farmers access and use certified seed potato and other recommended inputs. During a piloting exercise on seed booking and ordering conducted between mid-February and mid-April 2021, over 400 smallholder farmers were able to order seeds through the platform. A total of 134.15 tons of certified seeds were ordered and delivered to farmers’ respective pick-up points. Farmers who used the platform for the first time to order for seed potato were impressed by the ease of ordering, convenience in delivery and the high quality of seeds.
The upgraded platform has several sections such as; seed section, fertilizer section, agrochemical section, farm service provider section, mechanization section and extension services section. The section for Ware Potato marketing will soon be added and activated to help link farmers with market outlets. This inclusion will help improve the ware potato market infrastructure in the country.
The market outlets will benefit in accessing desired potato varieties, getting the required sizes, quality and quantity guaranteed as well as traceability. The upgraded platform will also create employment opportunities for other farm service providers who will act as aggregators at farm level.
In order to increase the number of beneficiaries, NPCK is currently creating awareness and farmer registration on the platform as well as recruiting and supporting Farm Service Providers (FSP) to undertake various business opportunities in potato value chain initiated through the platform.
The Upgraded Viazi Soko platform will do the followings to ware potato;
- Confirming potato quantities, size and variety.
- Sorting and grading of potato through farm service providers.
- Contract farming and aggregation through FSP’s.
- Analysis of ware potato prices over time.
|Mr. Kipsang Bett’s farm in Mau Narok. The farmer had ordered seeds through the platform.||Right: A screenshot of upgraded NPCK Viazi Soko digital platform home page.|