Potato storage and mechanization mission to the Netherlands

’Getting the required quality and quantity of potatoes for processing has been a big problem as a result of low production, due to the lack of certified potato seeds. We want to start contracting farmers so that we can get potatoes with the right shape, which is ideal for potato processing. We work with between 500 and 700 farmers on a yearly basis, but production is still low. Our company has the capacity of processing 15 tonnes of potatoes a day, but it is barely doing five tonnes a day!’.

These are the words of Humphrey Mburu the managing director of Sereni Fries Processing Ltd, a processor of potatoes based in Kenya. Humphrey was one of the processors who was part of potato storage and mechanization mission to the Netherlands that was arranged by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) in Kenya. The situation is echoed by other processors in the sector who are unable to meet their production capacity due to the lack of raw materials.

In a bid to achieve economic development the Government of Kenya recently unveiled the Big 4 agenda. This agenda includes 4 pillars with subsequent goals which the Kenyan Governments wants to achieve in the next 5 years, starting from 2017. Two of the pillars are closely related to the potato sector. The first pillar includes targets related to food security and the second pillar includes aims within the manufacturing industry. In both pillars potatoes have been selected as one of the crops to focus on.

While the supply of certified seed potato remains low the EKN has embarked on efforts to increase the supply of good quality seed. This is through a partnership between KEPHIS (Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services) and Netherlands in the Seed Potato Development Project. This has resulted into the registration of 34 Dutch varieties in the country which are aimed at increasing productivity and meeting goals within the pillar of food security. (For more information on the potato business follow this link to the Potato Special of 2018)

Beeld: ©Seed Potato Development Project: Kenya-Netherlands Partnership

Against this backdrop a phytosanitary mission took place in mid-January 2018 to strengthen the existing relationship. Kenya and Netherlands have a long standing trading relation in floriculture, horticulture and the recent seed potato are added. The team from the Netherlands comprised of a representative from NVWA (Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority) Marjan Fokkers and the Ministry of Economic Affairs represented by Lianne Kesbergen. The two were accompanied by the Agriculture Counselor in Kenya and Tanzania, Ingrid Korving, together with Liz Kiamba the agriculture officer at EKN.

During the mission the team visited Agrico one of the importers of seed potatoes. Here both KEPHIS and NVWA were able to hold discussions with the grower on the current state of affairs.

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