The East African Potato Consortium, co-chaired by Grow Africa and AGRA, aims to establish a robust potato value chain in East Africa, focusing on opportunities for value addition.
Potato production in the East African Community has grown by 340% over the past 20 years, and average potato consumption has increased at a similar pace, growing by approximately 300% in the same period. Despite this growth in production and consumption, potato farmers have failed to benefit, with farm-gate prices remaining very low at US$0.15/kg, largely due to highly fragmented supply chains. Productivity per hectare also remains low in the region, largely due to lack of quality inputs – particularly certified seed - requiring potato farmers to often plant up to three crops in the same year. Further challenges are presented by a lack of storage infrastructure, leading to significant post-harvest losses, exceeding 33% of production.
The current weaknesses in the value chain, combined with the rapidly increasing demand for potato and processed potato products, presents an opportunity to more than double farmer incomes in parts of the region, while strengthening the value chain. For example, investment of US$400 in quality seeds per hectare can result in an increase of over 300% in farmers’ profits.
The consortium features participation by companies across the value chain and farmer representatives, and is focusing its efforts on addressing bottlenecks in key areas – particularly inputs access and storage infrastructure - to help unlock investment. By helping to formalize value chains, Grow Africa and its consortium partners hope to also help enable access to finance for farmers and processors.
The Consortium focuses on overcoming constraints in three areas:
- Seed and inputs
The platform is open to members from:
- Farmers through umbrella bodies
- Processing companies
- Input suppliers
- Financial institutions
- NGOs and donors