In Kenya and Uganda, about 25 per cent of the population is considered to be malnourished and more than 30 per cent of the people live on less than USD 1.25 a day. In both countries, agriculture is the most important economic sector, providing employment and income opportunities for more than 70 per cent of the population. However, the mainly small-scale farms are unable to produce sufficient food for the growing population.
Potatoes are the second most important staple food in Kenya, after maize, and they form an important source of income for about 800,000 farmers. In Uganda too, potatoes are an important staple food. With high yields and relatively short growth cycles (90-120 days) by comparison with other crops, and as a good provider of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals such as potassium, the potato is well suited to meeting the demand for food and ensuring nutrition security.
Small-scale farmers in Kenya and Uganda achieve higher potato yields, and a broader diversity of food options is available to the under-nourished people.
The programme aims to improve the productivity and quality of potato production on small-scale farms. In the long-term, it should be possible increase the yields and incomes obtained through sustainable potato production. To achieve this the programme promotes innovative, adapted methods of cultivation and production which save resources, and it is building up entrepreneurial capacities.
At the same time, it is taking steps to raise the level of understanding of family nutrition as a means of improving the nutrition status of food-insecure people. This is complemented by training in areas such as cooking, food storage and hygiene.
A public-private dialogue is being strengthened at both national and regional levels. For this, the pro-gramme supports national dialogue platforms where policy-makers, local and international research institutions, and the private sector can all participate.
GIZ has previously gained important experience of the potato sector in Kenya which is very useful for the current programme. It tested new technologies for potato production in a pilot project with a focus on modern cultivation methods and good agricultural practices. This included soil cultivation, harvest and post-harvest methods, integrated pest management and the use of certified seed potatoes. As an independent scientific body, the International Potato Center (CIP) accompanied the use of the new technologies on nine test fields and documented the results.
The programme conducted farmer field days during the planting, cultivation and harvesting periods to demonstrate and teach the modern approaches to interested farmers. More than 2,500 famers partici-pated in these, and exchanged their views on modern potato production and good agricultural practic-es.
The results of the field trials show that the use of certified seed potatoes can contribute to increased yields, if machinery, adapted fertiliser and appropriate plant protection measures are also applied. Yields were up to four times as high as those from traditional cultivation methods. Moreover, the use of machinery saves time and costs. Harvest losses were reduced from 33 per cent before, to just 2.5 per cent.