The rolling grasslands, in the highlands of Fouta Djallon is the home of intensive agriculture in central Guinea. The region receives a great deal of rainfall and it is here where potatoes are a dominant crop.
Some 300km from the capital, Conakry, lies the Madina Timbi area near Pita town, an area that is famous for potato production.
Over 35,000 tons are harvested annually and that accounts to about 70% of the national production.
However, acquiring mechanized labour is a great challenge here and most of the work is carried out manually.
“If it was mechanized, it would take me a maximum of two days to plant on these 10 hectares. On the other hand, using manual labour would take many days especially when I don’t have sufficient workforce, even when I do, it’s usually not very efficient,” says Mamadou Bah a potato farmer in Timbi Madina.
In 2011, farmers in the region established a cooperative society to help them effectively market their produce.
Through the cooperative, they’ve been able to set up storage facilities for their stocks and seeds.
The storage facility however still lacks adequate storage equipment to help in conserving their produce.
“We don’t have all the necessary storage materials including conservation funds. We don’t have the standard boxes for storage so we use these ones. The standard ones are more airy and the best for storing potatoes. So because of that our storage capacity is limited,” Mamadou says.
This cooperative also offers extension services to all farmers in the region. It avails short, medium and long term funding to farmers to help them finance their activities.
In October 2015, Guinea’s President Alpha Conde commissioned a potato processing plant in the region. The farmers hope to make maximum profits out of it.