The government has launched a potato seed multiplication programme in six counties to address perennial shortages of seeds.
Agriculture CS Peter Munya said the seeds have been produced under the highest level of genetic control to ensure they are pure and accurately represent the variety characteristics identified by the breeder during selection.
“These seeds require further multiplication and are, therefore, given out to seed producers to multiply for wide distribution to farmers,” Munya said.
He added that the two-year project intends to add 2,500 metric tonnes of certified potato seeds into the national supply annually.
He further explained that the output will be achieved through training of county extension staff on climate-smart potato production practices with an emphasis on revitalising seed production and distribution.
Some 60 staff from Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Bomet, Nyandarua, Nyeri and Taita-Taveta have been trained on the multiplication process.
The new seeds, which have been produced by plant breeders at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro), will improve farmers’ access to certified potato seeds, which will mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on potato production, the minister said.
Potato is the second most important crop after maize that is produced in 20 counties under varying socio-economic and climatic conditions.
Potato farmers in these counties continue to face various production challenges leading to an average production of 10 tonnes per hectare against a potential of 60 tonnes.
Conversely, climate change remains a major challenge generally to agriculture, including potato production.
Yara East Africa country manager William Ngeno notes that local potato farmers face numerous challenges, especially lack of quality seeds, which eventually dips their productivity and incomes.
“Most potatoes used by processors in Kenya are imported because the local produce is of poor quality and comes with a lot of defects,” explained Ngeno.
To produce high quality tubers, according to him, farmers need good seeds, the right fertiliser and proper crop husbandry.
“Our soils are depleted, but farmers can use crop-specific fertilisers to enhance their yields and quality of their crops, which eventually guarantees them a premium market,” he said.
He added that farmers using crop-specific fertilisers can harvest up to 31,000 tonnes of potatoes per hectare, compared to 12,000 tonnes when using regular fertilisers.
He noted that Yara Fertilisers, in partnership with the Potato Council of Kenya, is working with 30,000 farmers in West Pokot, Meru, Narok and Nakuru counties.
“We have developed a fertiliser package namely YaraMila Power for planting, YaraMila Winner for top dressing and Sulfan,” said Ngeno, adding that farmers can access the products from local agrovets.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.