Seeing is believing! Indeed, the difference is so clear. But how much can I pay for this? The trials and farmers’ willingness to adopt and pay for modernized potato production in Kenya.
The trials in Kenya generated an excitement among farmers about the modern methods for potato production, which were demonstrated to them. Before the trial, only 56.4% of farmers interviewed indicated that they were willing to invest in certified potato seeds. However, after observing the performance of the certified potato seeds through the trials, 96.6% were now willing to invest in certified potato seeds. Most farmers, however, preferred to purchase certified potato seeds of the local Shangi variety. Farmers were willing to utilize the mechanization services (88.90%) demonstrated to them.
Although 96% of farmers were willing to use certified potato seeds, they preferred the local Shangi variety to the introduced varieties. The average WTP for 50kg of the introduced varieties was USD 13.54, lower than the USD 15.25 they are willing to pay for the local variety. The main reason is farmers’ skepticism about the market for the new varieties.
If farmers knew of the available market, they would cultivate these varieties. The low figures stated here could be because most farmers do not purchase potato seeds, since they use potato seeds from the previous crop season. However, the non-negative WTP is a positive sign or opportunity for adoption. Raising farmers’ awareness on the available and growing potato processing industry could enhance their WTP for the new varieties. Farmers were so enthusiastic about the idea of hiring the mechanization services after witnessing the mechanized demonstrations on plowing, planting, ridging/hilling, crop protection, fertilizer application, and harvesting. For many of the farmers, it was the first time they saw mechanized harvesting of potatoes. They ranked the benefits of mechanized ploughing, ridge formation, and harvesting as the first, second and third, respectively.
Besides ploughing, they are willing to pay more for harvesting (USD 69.15) and planting (USD 54.97) than for ridge formation (USD 53.29). The visible benefits of harvesting in reducing damages of tubers and labor hours are the reasons for being willing to pay more for harvesting than ridge formation. In all, the trials have created the awareness among farmers about modernized options for potato production. There is, therefore, an opportunity for increasing productivity of smallholders through the provision of the new products and services such as those used for the demonstrations.