LAW BREAKERS

Farmers want all counties to enforce potato law

They noted that farmers who had complied with the rule were the biggest losers

In Summary

• This came as the prices of the produce dropped sharply due to overproduction and low demand leaving farmers counting their losses which ran into thousands of shillings.

Nyandarua Agriculture CEC Dr James Karitu (in suit) with members of potato capacity building project and farmers examine hybrid potato plantations in a farm in Engineer, Nyandarua County.
Nyandarua Agriculture CEC Dr James Karitu (in suit) with members of potato capacity building project and farmers examine hybrid potato plantations in a farm in Engineer, Nyandarua County.
Image: George Murage

Potato farmers in Kinangop Nyandarua, now want all counties to enforce the new 50kg potato packaging rule to avoid losses.

They noted that farmers who had complied with the rule were the biggest losers as brokers were still buying the extended bags from other counties.

This came as the prices of the produce dropped sharply due to overproduction and low demand leaving farmers counting their losses which ran into thousands of shillings.

 
 

According to a director with Midland vegetable processing plant in Kinangop Matheri Wa Hungu, an extended bag of the produce was going for Sh1,500 down from Sh6,000 a month ago.

He said the market had been worsened by brokers who were ignoring potatoes packed in the 50kg bags despite the gazettement of the rule.

“We are calling on the national and county governments involved in potato growing to make sure this law is enforced all over the country,” he said.

Matheri added that the only solution to addressing woes affecting potato farmers lay in opening more processing plants for value addition.

“In Kinangop we have the multi-billion Midland factory that has the capacity to process tens of tonnes every day but politics has derailed its operations,” he said.

This came as enforcement officers from Nakuru County embarked on a major operation targeting those flouting the new law.

During the operation, one trader was arrested in Mai Mahiu cess collection point ferrying over 70 extended bags to Nairobi from Narok.

 
 

According to Nakuru County CEC for Agriculture Immaculate Maina all the 15 potato growing counties were working together to make sure the law was fully enforced.

She identified brokers as the major obstacle in enforcing the law as they were inciting farmers not to package the farm produce as required.

“We have arrested one driver in Mai Mahiu who was found transporting the potatoes in the extended bags and we shall make sure that this law is fully enforced,” she said.

Maina said the potato-growing counties would next week issue a joint communiqué adding that the law was meant to safeguard both farmers and traders.

“This is a free market and we are not trying to determine the prices of potatoes but sharing information with the farmers so that they can earn from their sweat,” she said.

Nakuru County assembly has already approved a proposal to construct a potato processing plant in Mau Narok, Njoro in the coming financial year.