The Potato Project

We’re using POTATOES and an innovative cooperative model to enable 5,000 rural Kenyan farmers to more than double their income.
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Michael Behan
Food
Boston, Massachusetts
United States
6 Team Members

We love potatoes, but more importantly we love what potatoes can do for people. Our goal is to enable over 5,000 small-scale potato farmers in rural Kenya to more than double their income through an innovative cooperative model that we've been developing and successfully testing for the past year.

                            We need your help to make this happen!

Njabini, Inc. (jah-beanie) as college students in 2010 by employing a group of 10 mothers to produce beautiful hand-made products in a small village called Karoingee,  which we then sold across the United States.  Our business grew quickly; we developed an incredible Kenyan staff, created 17 more jobs, and implemented financial training and business development programs to improve the education of the surrounding community and help women start businesses. 

After an incredibly successful 2 years, we decided we needed to scale up. We wanted to create a program that didn't just serve tens of families, but thousands.

Potato farms in central KenyaOne of the projects training plots, where producer groups meet once each week.

After years of learning from the women we worked with, their families, and the farming community we'd grown to call home, we spent a year developing The Potato Project. We've tested and proven this model in the Fall of 2012 and now we are ready to scale it. But, before we begin, we need clean seedlings, and to make clean seedlings we need to build an aeroponic system.  And that is why we are launching this campaign!

        Inputs +  Training  +  Market Access  =   300% Income Gain

The potato is the second most important crop in Kenya for food security and rural prosperity. Over 2 billion pounds of potatoes are consumed every year in the country - yet the country still does not produce enough to feed itself!  In fact, it’s the most consumed food in the highlands where we work. However, farm production levels are less than 50% of what farmers could harvest mainly because of crop loss from late blight and other pathogens. Most importantly, because farmers do not have access to high quality, disease free seedlings. Read more here!

                                   Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes!
                                                 Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes!

Step 1: Production Groups and Inputs 

The first step is to organize our farmers into manageable producer groups (about 20 members per group) which all work under a single "umbrella" co-operative. We then provide these groups with a service bundle’ consisting of high-quality planting inputs; including clean seedlings. Rather than making our farmers spend their limited money before harvest, we provide these planting materials on credit (each farmer receives the actual inputs, not a cash loan). After each harvest, each farmer repays the amount of the planting materials. 

Step 2: Training 

The next step is to provide extensive and weekly trainings to maximize each farmer's harvest and to minimize crop loss. Our partner extension officers and agronomists at the Agricultural Training Center provide weekly crop management training on our training plots. 

These trainings are coordinated in sequence of the crop cycle and covers everything in sequence from land preparation and seedling spacing to post harvest storage techniques.

Step 3: The Harvest

Lastly, each group harvests their crop collectively and brings them to the regional wholesale market directly, enabling each farmer to receive a higher wholesale price for their potatoes. The Kenyan potato market is dominated by brokers which buy potatoes directly from farmers and transport them to wholesalers.  Often times, brokers earn more profit in one day than the farmer does over an entire three months of back breaking work! By harvesting together, the farmers are able to economically bring their potatoes directly to the wholesaler and on average sell for 160% higher price.

Four women enrolled in The Potato ProjectFour women enrolled in The Potato Project

Results:

25% Savings + 

50% More potatoes + 

160% More sales =

300% Increase in income.

In 2012 we ran a successful trial with two groups which allowed farmers to access the highest quality inputs at a 25% discount, increase their production on average 50%, and increase the cash received from their sales by 160%.  This adds up to an average 300% income gain.

These coordinated services help our farmers greatly decrease the cost of planting their crops, minimize crop-failure risk, and increase the productivity of their land – greatly increasing the profitability of their farms each and every harvest season. 

Tom Mwangi, co-founder and chairmen "The potato guy"
Tom Mwangi, co-founder and chairmen "The potato guy"

The focus of this project is addressing the largest challenge that potato producers face - access to high quality and disease free seedlings.  We need to multiply enough for 5,000 farmers and to do that we need to start with two aeroponic greenhouse systems which grows seedlings at a 10x higher rate than traditional soil based techniques that we've been using for the past six months and at a lower cost!

Minitubers in aeroponic greenhouse
Minitubers in aeroponic greenhouse

Another potato enthusiast wrote; “Considered as one of the major breakthrough in agricultural research and innovation, aeroponics is the latest discovery that could open a world of opportunities for potato growers..” 

Check out this video here about aeroponics in Kenya.

 

It costs $125 to purchase the necessary inputs to enroll another family into our program.  That money will be paid back by the farmers and reinvested the following season enabling our members to triple their income every season, for life. Every CENT raised above our goal will help us reach more families!!

Check out our INCREDIBLE rewards to the right, find yours and support us! (Keep scrolling, the higher the better!) For any rewards that require travel (Safari, Private Dinner Party, Private Chef) we will coordinate logistics with you directly.

Visit our products page here and browse our collection if you're receiving a 50% discount. We will send you a discount code directly.

Please email us if you have any questions: mike@njabiniapparel.org

For the ultimate reward, a trip to Kenya, a three day Safari, and a chance to see our project in action yourself, check out the link below and get ready for the most epic adventure of your life.

 

1.) Will enable us to build an aeroponic multiplication system.

2.) The aeroponic system will enable us to begin growing enough seedlings to supply 5,000 farmers.

3.) Supplying these farmers, combined with our innovative cooperative model, will enable 5,000 families to triple their income every single year!

With support from the Agricultural Training Center and KARI (Kenya Agriculture Research Institution) we ran two test trials in the Fall of 2012.  Both trials yielded incredible results. We were recently awarded grant funding from IDEA with support from the Social Enterprise Institute to begin scaling the project.

 

 

Share, talk to others, call, text, email, Facebook, Tweet, and...forward this INDIEGOGO link to everyone you!!!  We have 40 days to raise $35,000 through Indiegogo. PLEASE HELP US ROCK IT $35,000 and beyond!!! Check out our fantastic REWARDS; let’s make more potatoes!

1.) Who are your implementation partners

Great question! We've been working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture's extension officers to provide trainings, KARI (Kenya Agriculture Research Institution) to effectively implement the aeroponic system. 

2.) When will we get our rewards

In two weeks tops!! The dinner, Njabini party, and trip to Kenya will be scheduled with each individual backer!  And the chef is ABSOLUTELY incredible with years of experience doing private dinners.She was INCREDIBLY generous to donate her time for this campaign.  

3.) How else can we support

Jump on over to our website and pick up some products handmade in Njabini, Kenya. Your purchase creates jobs and all profits are reinvested into growing The Potato Project.

4.) What in the world is aeroponics?

Basically, aeroponics is a technique of growing plants in the air and in a closed and controlled environment.  Check out this video about aeroponic potato production in space; potato aeroponics made it to Modern Marvels and into space.. so cool!

Our additional partners include:

\\Video directing, filming, and editing by Mike Irving | semiproductions.com | mikeirvingmusic@gmail.com | @mikeirvingmusic

\\Audio Mixing & Music by Sam Ewing | sam@samewingmusic.com

 

***Our friends at Fresh Truck let us dump one ton of potatoes on their office, which we donated to Rosie's Place, a local homeless shelter.  

The Potato Project is a creation of Njabini.....

 

Find This Campaign On
$9,647USD
raised by 98 people in 2 months
28% funded
0 time left
$35,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on June 7, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $10USD
    ASANTE SANA (THANK YOU!)

    A Great-Big-Eternal-Thank-You with your name listed on our website support page PLUS you will be included in our mailing list so you can keep up with our progress. We appreciate any support! THANK YOU! And you'll receive a personal and very enthusiastic thank you call from our co-founders!

    4 claimed

    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $35USD
    Njabini T & Bracelet!

    You’ll get a limited edition super soft, cotton, Njabini T-shirt, stickers, AND one of our new-never-before-seen unisex PAMOJA bands.

    38 claimed

    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $50USD
    Major Gratitude Package!

    All of the prizes listed above (That’s right- unlimited gratitude, website shout out, our first-ever Njabini tee, and bracelet) AND 50% off your next Njabini purchase, perfect for yourself or a gift.

    5 claimed

    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $75USD
    Potatoes, Prizes, & Package!

    All of the prizes listed above, a personal thank you letter and a potato from the Njabini team! PLUS a Yoga Mat Bag handmade by our women in Kenya! Check out our website to see the patterns yourself! www.njabini.org

    10 claimed

    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $150USD
    Video thank you from Kenya!

    In addition to ALL the prizes listed above, you’ll receive a personal video thank you from our farmers in Kenya, AND your name will be listed on our greenhouse supporter’s plaque in Njabini!

    6 out of 150 claimed

    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $250USD
    Name our farm!

    This is epic! You get to name one of our farms in Kenya. Seriously, whatever you want! We'll put a permanent sign up in front of it and send you photo updates.

    7 out of 20 claimed

    Estimated delivery: April 2013
  • $300USD
    Private Njabini Dinner!

    Your name listed as a silver level supporter on the Njabini website AND on our greenhouse supporters plaque, 50% off your next Njabini purchase, AND two exclusive tickets to a private dinner event hosted by Njabini in Boston.

    1 out of 50 claimed

    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $1,000USD
    Sponsor eight families!

    For $1,000 you will be sponsoring eight families to enroll into our program; directly serving over 40 lives for years to come. We'll send you video updates from one of the families after they harvest!

    0 claimed

  • $2,500USD
    Gold: Catered Dinner Party

    What you’ll get: Your name permanently listed as a gold level supporter on our website. AND for those of you in the Boston and Rhode Island area, a private, experienced, INCREDIBLE chef will come to your home to cook a gourmet dinner for a party of six.

    0 out of 10 claimed

    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $5,000USD
    Official Partner

    What you'll get: You or your company will be acknowledged as an official partner on the partnership page of our website and on our office wall in Kenya. AND you'll get a private, experienced, INCREDIBLE chef to come to your home to cook a gourmet dinner for a party of six. (You must be in the New England area). Email mike@njabiniapparel.org for more info and details!

    0 out of 8 claimed

    Estimated delivery: May 2013
  • $15,000USD
    Ultimate Kenya Safari!

    The prize of champions: We’ll fly you to Kenya to go on a three-day, luxury safari in the famous Masaai Mara region of Kenya. Then, we’ll take you to meet our farmers and the celebrated Njabini workshop! Email mike@njabiniapparel.org for more info and details!

    0 out of 4 claimed

    Estimated delivery: May 2013
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