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UK Govt Invests USD 18.5M in Kenyan Facility for Processing Irish & Sweet Potatoes

The UK government has begun work on a US$18.5 million production facility for Irish & sweet potato processing in Iten, Elgeyo Marakwet county, Kenya. The processing plant will have a 60,000-tonne capacity and will process fresh and frozen Irish and sweet potatoes.

Shivam Dwivedi
British High Commissioner to Kenya, will ensure stable farm prices for over 10,000 smallholder potato farmers in the county
British High Commissioner to Kenya, will ensure stable farm prices for over 10,000 smallholder potato farmers in the county

After completion, the factory will be the first in the country and the third in Africa to process Irish & sweet potatoes for the European market, following Egypt and South Africa.

 

The factory is a collaboration between the UK government and Select Fresh Produce Kenya Limited, and it is being implemented in collaboration with the Iten municipality through the UK's Sustainable Urban Economic Development Programme (SUED).

The factory, according to Jane Marriot, the British High Commissioner to Kenya, will ensure stable farm prices for over 10,000 smallholder potato farmers in the county and region. She also stated that the facility will generate at least 5,000 direct jobs in its first year of operation, increasing to 10,000 jobs in five years.

 

Furthermore, the programme intends to develop a new high-yielding seed variety to increase farmers' yield and income. According to an International Potato Center report, potato is now Kenya's second most important food crop after maize, grown by 800,000 small-scale farmers and employing an estimated 2.5 million people along the value chain (CIP).

Elgeiyo Marakwet county, where the factory will be built, is the country's second largest producer of potatoes after Nyandarua, but farmers have been exploited by middlemen, lowering potato farming morale. However, Elgeiyo Marakwet governor Wisley Rotich stated that the county will fully support the project to boost the potato value chain and reduce exploitation by middlemen.

 

He also stated that he has assigned cooperative officers to all wards in order to strengthen cooperative societies, and that farmers will sign contracts with the factory as groups rather than individuals. In support of this, Eunice Mutua, CEO of Select Fresh Produce Kenya, stated that the factory will work closely with local farmers to ensure that their products meet international standards. She also stated that they will ensure that farmers use environmentally friendly methods that promote climate resilience.

 

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