Feed the Future – Kenya Accelerated Value Chain Development Program

Improving food security, nutrition and incomes of 100,00 smallholder households with root crops in Kenya

The goal of the root crops value chain of the Feed the Future – Accelerated Value Chain Development (AVCD) project is to contribute to improving food security, nutrition and incomes of 100,00 smallholder households in Kenya over three years. The project aims to support seed system development through targeted private sector investment, increase crop productivity and market opportunities, and improve nutritional quality of diets across eight counties.

Why root crops?

Potato and sweetpotato are among the fastest expanding food crops in Kenya, used increasingly by smallholder farmers for food security and income. Both crops are relatively fast-maturing (4 months) and valued as reliable food security crops. Potato provides significant income opportunities for smallholder farmers and enriches diets with minerals and vitamins. Sweetpotato is known for its resilience and productivity across diverse agro-ecologies, ranging from high rainfall to semi-arid regions.

Orange fleshed sweetpotato value chain

Orange fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) varieties are rich in beta-carotene, hence a source of vitamin A to combat vitamin A deficiency (VAD) in women and young children. In Kenya, where 84% of children under 5 years and roughly 20% of women are affected by VAD, OFSP’s proven success to reduce VAD in these target groups makes it a compelling vehicle to reach nutrition outcomes through sustainable food-based approaches.

Potato value chain

The potato sector is valued at 500 million USD annually and provides employment opportunities for two million Kenyans along the value chain. Potato is grown by approximately 800,000 farmers, mostly smallholder, for which potato is a key source of food security and income. Consumption of potato is growing rapidly and it is currently ranked the second most important staple food crop after maize. A principal obstacle to vibrant potato value chains in Kenya are low yields averaging 8 – 10 t/ha, far below realistic yields of 20 to 25 t/ha, largely as a consequence of limited access to quality seed. Opportunities within the seed potato value chain offer diverse entrepreneurial opportunities for smallholder farmers to large-scale professional farms and businesses, contributing to business development and economic growth.

Scaling out technologies and sustainability

The International Potato Center (CIP), an AVCD implementing partner, and partners have developed and validated technologies and delivery systems that are easing bottlenecks to scaling out potato and sweetpotato value chains, such as the seed system of these vegetatively propagated crops that has historically made it so difficult to manage devastating diseases. In Kenya, technologies and approaches are now available for scaling up with the potential to double smallholder potato yields from quality seed, and significantly increase the nutrition quality and economic value through improved OFSP varieties.

Engaging private sector is key to sustainability of AVCD root crops interventions. Shifting seed production from national institutions to private sector, and enabling national institutions to provide technical backstopping are key focus areas. The CIP-led, USAID-funded project, “Tackling the food price crisis in Eastern and Central Africa with the humble potato: Enhanced productivity and uptake through the ‘3G’ approach” (3G), piloted tackling seed shortages by introducing rapid multiplication technologies and involving the private sector at all stages of seed production. In this project, CIP will scale-out the interventions of the 3G project, working with three private sector SME’s and county extension officers. CIP will engage with private sector at the other spectrum of the potato value chain to strengthen market-access for potato farmers and entry into processing markets.

Program objectives and activities

The potato value chain aims to reach at least 35,000 households in Kenya with high-quality seed of improved potato varieties to increase income from potato production by at least 20% and value of sales by 30%. The sweetpotato value chain will reach at least 65,000 households with children under five in western Kenya with productive and nutritious OFSP varieties and nutrition education. Approximately 50 percent of the households will receive support with postharvest utilization, storage and marketing to increase the value of sweetpotato sales by at least 15%.

Interventions to achieve these targets for both potato and sweetpotato value chains follow 6 specific objectives:


  • Objective 1: Develop at least 150 progressive smallholder farmers into seed potato businesses
  • Objective 2: Increase capacity of 35,000 smallholder potato farmers to increase yields by 30%
  • Objective 3: Improve seed and ware potato market coordination through access to market information and linking value chain actors


  • Objective 1: Increase productivity and production of OFSP among 65,000 smallholder households
  • Objective 2: Improve nutrition knowledge and practice at household level, utilizing OFSP more effectively as part of healthy diets, particularly for 65,000 women and 54,000 children under 5
  • Objective 3: Improve storage and marketing of fresh OFSP roots for at least 30,000 households

Key activities to be implemented include:

  1. Increase private sector engagement along the seed potato value chain to improve access to quality seed potato. Support private sector SMEs to invest in early generation seed potato to produce certified seed and transform progressive farmers into seed multipliers to further bulk certified seed.
  2. Strengthen seed systems and access to quality seed potato through transforming progressive farmers into seed multipliers to further bulk certified seed potato, thereby providing seed to their local farming communities.
  3. Enable farmers to maximise investment in quality seed potato through field days and farmer training in good agricultural practices at learning farms. Farmers will also be trained to save seed on-farm as farmers do not purchase all of their seed needs every season.
  4. Support market development through ICT-based options to access seed and ware potato market information.
  5. OFSP vine multipliers will be mentored to conduct vine multiplication as a business. Specific effort will be to reach women and children under 5 years who as most vulnerable to VAD with quality vines of productive nutritious OFSP varieties.
  6. Strengthen existing health structures to integrate strong messaging and activities on maternal, infant and young child feeding practices with particular focus on vitamin A and OFSP. There will be capacity building of healthcare providers to increase uptake of agriculture-nutrition linkages to improve nutrition. Demonstrate various OFSP recipes integrating common household foods.
  7. Improve storability of OFSP to assure year round availability for trading targeting formal and informal markets.
  8. Train farmers on good agronomic practices, collective action in production and marketing, use of ICT platforms to access market information and contractual linkages between farmers and buyers.

Program outcomes and intermediate results

Implementing the outlined activities is expected to yield the following outcomes:

  • Increased private sector investment and involvement along the seed potato value chain and increased gross margins from seed potato, potato and OFSP production
  • Productive, nutritious OFSP varieties introduced into new communities and farmer groups
  • Farmer access to quality planting material of nutritious, productive and farmer-preferred OFSP improved varieties
  • OFSP and vitamin A material integrated into mainstream nutrition education and nutrition counselling at health centers and schools, and capacity strengthened among technical staff, planners, and community groups.
  • Options for diversified OFSP utilization, such as complementary baby food, adapted and scaled up and capacity strengthened of HH and communities
  • At least three technologies and practices to improve root storage adapted and disseminated.

These outcomes would lead to the following intermediate results:

  • Increased productivity in smallholder potato and sweetpotato (OFSP) farming systems
  • Expanded markets and trade for OFSP and potato
  • Increased and more gender-equitable income for smallholder farmers
  • Increased consumption of nutritious foods, especially among women and children


Farm Concern International will enhance collective action both at production and marketing level of OFSP in order for farmers to benefit from economies of scale.

Farm Input Promotions Africa (FIPS-Africa) will partner with CIP (& other CGs) to disseminate appropriate technologies and information to farmers through self-employed VPA. VPA are hard-working farmers selected from within target villages in a community-facilitated process. They are trained by CIP and FIPS on a range of technologies to multiply seed potato as a business and save seed potato on-farm to increase potato productivity, methodologies to promote their businesses and complementary income generating activities.

National Potato Council of Kenya will improve access and use of high quality seed by undertaking several initiatives that link seed potato multipliers to markets, improve distribution systems through operationalization of SMS based seed portal and organize, train and link farmers with markets.

Natural Resources Institute of the UK will provide capacity building to Kenya Industrial Research Development Institute while establishing storage facilities for OFSP in support of year-round availability of OFSP.

County Departments of Agriculture, Nutrition, Public Health and Education will play an important role to support seed system development, and promote agriculture nutrition linkages for improved nutrition and behavior change towards increased production and consumption of OFSP. County, sub-county and ward extension officers will have a key role in project implementation to identify seed multipliers and farmers to host potato learning farms, provide technical backstopping to seed multipliers and farmers hosting learning farms, and organize and host field days and farmer training at learning farms.

Private sector are an important driver to adopt and scale out technologies and approaches to produce quality seed to ensure sustainability of seed systems in intervention areas. Expanding certified seed production into intervention areas is critical to ensure a sustainable supply of certified seed for onward bulking by private seed multipliers. Additionally, private processing companies will be instrumental to enhance market access by potato farmers.

Feed the Future Kenya Accelerated Value Chain Development

The key program goals are:

  • Sustainably reduce poverty and hunger in the Feed the Future zones of influence in Kenya’
  • Increase inclusive agricultural growth and improved nutrition status of participants in the targeted value chains’.

The Feed the Future Kenya Accelerated Value Chain Development seeks to widely apply technologies and innovations for selected value chains in order to competitively and sustainably increase productivity, contributing to inclusive agricultural growth, nutrition and food security in the country. The program’s main goal is to sustainably reduce poverty and hunger in the Feed the Future zones of influence in Kenya.

Focusing on the livestock, dairy, staple crops root crops and staple drought tolerant crops value chains in 23 counties in Kenya, the program aims to lift 385,200 households out of poverty, making them food secure and enabling their transition from subsistence to market-orientated farming.

AVCD Program Partners

The implementation of the three-year (October 2015–2018) program is being led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), together with the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the International Potato Center (CIP).

Other partners include Heifer International, TechnoServe, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Farm Inputs Promotions Africa, Farm Concern, Director of Veterinary Services, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, Kenya Livestock Marketing Council, county livestock marketing councils, local market associations; Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and Fisheries, Kenya National Drought Management Authority; National Potato Council of Kenya, the Northern Rangelands Trust and the University of Nairobi.