By Lucky Bernard,
National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK) has entered into an agreement with TingA, East Africa’s network of tractors and farm equipment, to provide agricultural machinery on a rental basis to potato farmers in a bid to help farmers to improve their productivity and incomes. The partnership will see farmers through the Council’s referral, access farm implements like potato planters, ploughs, air seeders, boom sprayers and harvesters from farm machinery network. The availability of these machinery in what have dubbed Viazi Soko Digital platform will result in further mechanization, better cost management and increased efficiency. This will save time, lower costs of farming, reduce drudgery and inefficiency associated with use of traditional manual labour that hinder farmers from maximizing the potential of their farms. The firm will offer education and training to the smallholder farmers as well expert knowledge in mechanization services to reduce overall production costs.
“For the country to be able to produce the food required, it critical for us to embrace technologies that make life easier for citizens and ensure food security. By providing farmers with mechanization solution, the partnership is a pivotal step in the integration of smallholder farmers into the national agricultural value chain. Our partnership with the potato council embraces our strategy to enhance digital transformation across the agriculture value chain, increase equipment utilization and provide farm efficiency,” said Nyandieka Philip, TingA CEO.
Individual farmers and farmer groups from potato growing counties such as Narok, Meru, Nakuru, Laikipia among others will benefit from the agreement. The duo have agreed that the equipment renter ensures that farmers get mechanization services while the potato council is tasked with mobilizing its members access the farm machinery. Through this pact, farmers access the farm inputs at subsidized rates, therefore increasing their profit margins.
Wachira Kaguongo, NCPK’s CEO, said, “Currently, we are up-scaling the number of farmers we have been working with from 10,000 farmers to 25,000 farmers targeted for intensive support and it is projected that 100,000 farmers will be reached within 3 years while 200,000 farmers will be reached in 5 years’ time. We have agreed to refer our members to TingA to access mechanization services and other services they offer through our digital platform. From time to time, we will also advise them on the mechanization needs of the farmers and the farmer groups to enable planning. We will also work together in various famers training forums that we will organize in different counties’’.
The crop demand has risen over the years unlike in the past when it was associated with specific communities in Kenya. Research shows that the consumption of the tuber as food is ever changing from fresh potatoes to processed food products therefore increasing the demand with the up-surging population. Potatoes are used for a variety of purposes, and not only as a vegetable for cooking at home. Actually, it is likely that less than half of potatoes cultivated globally are consumed fresh. The rest are processed into potato food products and food ingredients; fed to cattle, pigs, and chickens; processed into starch for industry; and re-used as seed tubers for growing the next season’s potato crop.
Pharmaceutical, textile, paper and wood industries widely use Potato starch as an adhesive, binder, texture agent, and filler, and by oil drilling firms to wash boreholes. The tuber’s starch is a 100% biodegradable auxiliary for polystyrene and other plastics and used, for instance, in disposable plates, dishes, and knives. Potato peel and other “zero value” wastes from potato processing are rich in starch that can be liquefied and fermented to produce fuel-grade ethanol. A research in Canada projected that 44,000 tons of processing leftovers could harvest 4-5 million liters of ethanol.
The duo says that they have prioritized potato mechanization because its improved production is key in economic growth through the utilization of rare resources in product manufacturing.
Farmers can book services through the equipment renter’s online platform dubbed TingA Rental Store that offers innovative solutions which enhances farmer’s productivity by providing superior, modern and affordable agricultural equipment through a mobile platform.
The council members who are growing other crops besides potatoes are also set to benefit.
For further details and updates, please contact;
Head of Corporate Affairs and Communications,
VAELL Group/ TingA,
Cell: +254 719408244/0780408244
TingA is a project of Quipbank Trust Limited that employs the use of modern day technology channels to allow farmers access farming mechanization. One of these being it’s online based platforms that enable farmers to register and order for services as groups or individuals using hand gadgets such as mobile phones, tablet or computers. This accessibility enables even small-scale farmers to enjoy farming equipment on short-term leases. TingA Community Model Concept works by allowing farmers to register for mechanization services as groups through already established units such as NGOs, Chama, SACCO, Co-operative Societies, or Churches.
TingA is owned by Vehicle and Equipment Leasing Limited (VAELL) the largest leasing firm in East Africa. VAELL was recently hosted by Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) onto its premium incubation and acceleration programme, Ibuka.