Productivity and food security effects of using of certified seed potato: the case of Kenya’s potato farmers
This article (PDF) in the Agriculture & Food Security Journal assessed the effect of using certified seed potato (CSP) on yield, input use, and food security among smallholder farmers. The recent development of rapid seed multiplication technique has helped to shorten the duration of CSP production and to increase the supply of seed. The research focused on potato growers in central highlands of Kenya, who were in close proximity to a private seed multiplier that uses these new techniques. The study collected data from 408 smallholder farmers through personal interviews. Results indicate that use of CSP is associated with increased yields, sales, and hence income. In addition, users of CSP were less food insecure than their counterparts. These findings imply the need to promote farmer use of quality/clean seed. These gains are, however, accompanied by a modest increase in the use of inputs, notably pesticides and fertilizer, apparently due to pursuit by farmers to optimize the gains from CSP. This implies the need to train farmers on the safe use of pesticides in order to avoid potential negative effects exposure to such chemicals. Distance to source of CSP reduces the likelihood of its use, suggesting the significance of transaction costs in farmers’ decision to use of CSP, but may also reflect the bulky nature of the seed potato. The strong correlation between asset ownership and access to CSP implies that access by poorer smallholder farmers may be constrained. This can, however, be overcome by organizing such farmers together as a group and sourcing seed jointly, thus enabling them to reduce per unit costs and benefiting through economies.