If the President’s daughter finds this crop cool...

potato day

Ok, so maize comes top. (For transatlantic readers, that’s “corn”). But what do you think is Kenya’s second most important food and cash crop? Here are some clues: It’s “down to earth” and supposedly humble.

Humble? It contributes over KES 50 billion annually to the country’s economy, and plays a critical role in food security, poverty eradication, and economic development. About 800,000 smallholders grow the crop. (Which is one reason why the Syngenta Foundation gets so passionate about it). Further along the value chain, about 3.5 million other people work with it. Many of them know it as viazi.

If you’re still unsure, here’s the give-away: Syngenta Foundation East Africa recently went to Kenya’s 6th National Potato Conference. This took place at the headquarters of KALRO in Loresho. “We showcased our innovative solutions there that support structured potato production and marketing”, says Stephen Okeyo from our local team. “Our passion for potato farming is clear from our support of key initiatives such as seed technology transfer and last-mile delivery through Farmers' Hubs. With numerous partners, we want a brighter future for the potato industry!”


Three well-matched P’s: potatoes, passion, and Peru

Not entirely by chance, the conference dates included May 30th. What’s the significance? Well, next year this will be the first-ever International Day of the Potato. Like so many other great things to do with tubers, the idea came from Peru. The FAO wisely agreed. A few days after “IDP”, the next World Potato Congress starts in Australia. The 2026 edition will be in Nairobi, by the way. We were one of the organizations supporting Kenya’s hosting bid. 

Want to invest in the future of Kenya's potato sector? Charlene Ruto, aka daughter of the President, believes you should! As she highlighted at KALRO, there’s a great opportunity for Kenyan youth to venture into potatoes for employment and income. Some help will come in handy, though. “The National Potato Conference brought together some of the top professionals in the field”, Stephen Okeyo comments. “Amongst other things, they discussed the importance of supporting smallholders via access to certified seeds and other vital inputs. Those are topics very close to the Foundation’s heart. In partnership, we can all build a stronger potato value chain.”    

What else happened at KALRO? For one thing, the conference launched the National Potato Savings and Credit Cooperative Society. “Making it easier to get loans is a huge step forward for the sector”, underlines our Seeds2B head Tony Gathungu.

We look forward to the future with confidence, and so can smallholders.