By Jared Oundo,
Self Help Africa has awarded regional leasing firm, Vehicle and Equipment Leasing Limited (VAELL), a grant of EUR 449,150 (Kes. 51,684,269.36) to support potato mechanization in Narok County. The grant is part of Self Help Africa’s AgriFI Kenya Challenge Fund. The firm joins other 15 institutions which qualified for the awards out of 300 applications for the AgriFi Kenya Challenge. The leasing firm through its agricultural arm, TingA, has been aiding farmers in various parts of the country mechanize their farms from land preparation, tillage, ploughing, weeding all the way to harvesting with no manual work involved. This has led to 300% harvest increase and 90% decrease in post-harvest losses.
The lessor said in a statement the project co-financed by the European Union and SlovakAid through its action fund coordinator Self Help Africa, will help in construction of potato cold storage facility to end post-harvest loses as well as boost their efforts in potato farm mechanization to boost production. The fund is going to help in building the capacity of smallholder farmers to practise environmentally sustainable and climate smart agriculture (CSA) as a business in inclusive chains. More than 10,000 farmers are expected to benefit from the initiative that is designed to make farmers woes a thing of the past.
“We have agreed to enter into this Agreement with VAELL, in order to increase smallholder potato farmers’ income through an integrated value chain approach. Due to the semi-arid nature of the county, farmer training and mechanization services will focus strongly on conservation agriculture techniques, especially conservation tillage,” said Rebecca Amukhoye, Country Director, Self Help Africa.
“Working with VAELL across county, the AgriFI Kenya Challenge Fund grant will help farmers to modernise and harness the full economic, employment and export potential of agriculture,” added Rebecca Amukhoye.
“We have aligned our strategy with the Big 4 agenda to empower smallholder farmers who are the majority approximated to be about 70% of the farmers in Kenya,” said Bertha Mvati, VAELL Kenya Managing.
At the moment potato is the third most popular food in Kenya besides maize and banana. With the increase in population and shortage of maize in Kenya, most players in the sector are encouraging potato farming as a sure bet to food security.
This year alone, TingA, East Africa’s largest network of farm equipment, is reported to have trained more than 3000 farmers across the country. The lessor in association with its other partners has been sensitizing and training farmers on modern potato farming technique. The farm equipment renter works with farmers associations which help them to bring together the farmers. The institutions through project in Meru County, Laikipia and now Narok among other places has changed the way potato farming is done in Kenya.
Philip Nyandieka, the TingA General Manager, said, “low farm-gate prices due to lack of potato storage facilities has contributed to significant losses incurred in the informal supply chain. The absence of cold storage facilities in the region exposes farmers to untold post-harvest losses. Once we build this resource which will be the first facility in the entire region of its own kind, farmers can delay the sale of their potatoes after four months and sell them for up to 50-100% above the market price at their convenience rather than selling them at throw away prices during the harvest seasons. This will also curb exploitation of potato farmers by brokers and cartels.”
In the arrangement, as storage service supplier, the company will assist farmers to find market through market linkages. The funds will also be used to help smallholder farmers access certified potato seeds, credit and marketing services. Ms. Mvati said that it has been hard for farmers to get good quality seeds that can guarantee optimum harvest.
“Good harvests don’t just come. As we have done before we will ensure that farmers in Narok access certified seeds from our other partners to improve production. We have been actually guiding farmers through the entire potato production cycle by ensuring that they abide by the planting, weeding, spraying, fertilizer application, earthing up and all related activities including harvesting and selling of the harvests. This is an addition to our efforts in enhancing food security and job creation among the young people and women,” Bertha Mvati added.
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Vehicle and Equipment Leasing Limited (VAELL) is the market leader in asset leasing, maintenance and consulting in Eastern and Central Africa region. It has presence in the auto mobile, healthcare, mining, agricultural, telecommunication, construction, gas and oil sector. It has managed to diversify and expand its portfolio by offering customized solutions to suit every client’s requirement and need. VAELL, the leading provider of integrated leasing services for a broad range of moveable assets and machinery across the region, has geographical coverage with fully fledged subsidiaries in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia. The leasing firm has a correspondent relationship with other leasing companies in South Africa and India. It facilitates clients with vehicles and machinery throughout the region from any one country office across its network.
In 2014 VAELL won the award for the Best in Transport, in the Top 100 KPMG/Business Daily survey, and 2015 shot into Club 101 in the same survey. It has scooped 18 awards in the last 5 years. The leasing market leader was named in 2018 by East African Business Council Tanzania as the best East African Company in The Service Sector. The lessor has also been named in the South Africa’s Titan Building Nation awards in the outstanding achievement category. VAELL was recently hosted by Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) onto its premium incubation and acceleration programme, Ibuka. VAELL also owns Quipbank Trust Limited, equipment sharing platform and TingA, East Africa’s largest tractor share platform.