- The potato law came into effect mid last year
- For years farmers have been oppressed by brokers
Farm produce in the agriculture rich area of Kinangop in Nyandarua County has dropped by twenty per cent due to a limited market and entry of brokers.
According to local farmers, a bag of potato was going for Sh2,000 down from Sh,3000 while that of carrots was fetching Sh1,500 from Sh2,000.
They attribute this to the closure of hotels in various parts of the country and infiltration of brokers who are flouting the 50kg potato packaging rule, a year after the government imposed it.
The rule which comes with a harsh penalty of Sh500,000 fine or a year jail term for those who contravenes it has not scared brokers enough, causing farmers huge losses.
Speaking while commemorating the World Food Safety Day over the weekend, farmers from the Geta Green Agriculture group said they were practicing sustainable farming to shore up the revenues and compensate for losses.
According to the group chairperson Jane Wanjiru, the increases in farm produce in the area to a change in farming methods which had seen them introduce intercropping, scrap use of chemicals and spacing.
She however added that competition in the market had seen brokers return to the outlawed methods of packing potatoes in extended bags.
“Apart from the brokers who have reintroduced the extended potato bags, farming in this area has improved drastically and we can comfortably feed the nation and our families,” he said.
She appealed to the government to act and reign on these brokers who have taken advantage of the current situation to fleece them.
Another farmer Jamleck Macharia said that they were now involved in agri-business with hotels around Lake Naivasha keen to buy their chemical-free produce.
He noted that under the new farming methods, potato production had tripled with one acre producing 30 bags from 10 bags previously.
“In the past, we were farming blindly without first enquiring about market dynamics but we have completely changed and our production and profit margin has increased,” he said.
The chairman Lake Naivasha Water Resources User Association (LANARUA) Enock Kiminta said that they had been working with WWF is seeking a market for the farmers.
“The farmers have been trained on modern farming methods, introduced to hoteliers and their challenge is the failure by the brokers to observe the 50kg packaging rule,” he said.
Marked every June 7, the second edition of World Food Safety Day drew attention and inspire action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks.