The Grand Potato Project

Met with Claudia and Pierluigi of Global Farm Products today to discuss the record keeping format for the potato project. The project hopes to teach farmers how to plan and plant consistently according to market demand using a time line as a guide. The project was an idea I had developed and asked assistance from KOAN as I felt the farmers needed help to get out of the ad hoc production system they all seemed to follow.
Last year whilst in Switzerland (with Biovision) I discovered the Swiss farmers were expected to have a minimum two years of agricultural training before being able to farm the land as recognised farmers. The understanding of the word ‘farmer’ was thus different from our african farmer counterparts who would I discovered be call ‘feld man’ or field hands. The difference is also in that in Switzerland it seems farmers made a concious decision to farm, in kenya many farmers are farmers like me, simply by default. Have land will farm.
There is therefore a huge need for training in everything from production, marketing, value addittion etc

So the potato project is meant to achieve its objective using one product for ease of training etc. My greatest worry is that if we get it right we will have a mountain of organic potatoes to market come the end of the year!!

The idea is also to develop a streamlined system between the market and the farmers so as to minimise risk and frustration at both ends. I would like to be able to tap into information on the expected volumes of production of my supply chain at any point in time. The farmers would like to know the requirements and prices of various products too. Currently, ………there is no real system. Pierluigi and Claudia will be responsible for making sure of the information flow. To do this we need to develop some sort of template the farmers can fill on a weekly basis, compute and send to Global Farm Products. An ambitious undertaking, but not impossible. GFP will then crunch the numbers and either feed the information up and down the supply chain or have it readily available for the stakeholders, being the market, the farmers, the certification body EnCert, KOAN and HIVOS, (a Dutch NGO funding the project)

So far the initial 3 day planning stage has resulted in the farmers being traind on time lines. Then as they should have been starting planning for implementation in Jan 08, we had the messy elections. It may therefore take a while for the project to get back on course and meanwhile, we are trying to develop the templates. More later………..

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