• Brokers major obstacle as they ask farmers to package potatoes in higher quantities.
• Enforcement officers will be deployed across the county to implement new rules.
The Nakuru county government has notified all stakeholders in the potato subsector to adhere to the 50kg packing regulation that has now come to force.
Those who contravene the rules will be fined Sh500,000 or be jailed for a year.
In a notice on implementation of the Irish Potato Regulations 2019, Governor Lee Kinyanjui directed growers, producers, processors, marketing agents, dealers and transporters to adhere to the regulations.
“The maximum weight for each single unit of package of Irish potatoes shall be 50kg. Growers and dealers of Irish potato produce shall use a weighing scale that has been properly calibrated, serviced, inspected and approved by the Ministry for the time being responsible for trade,” the notice reads.
He said other potato growing counties will enforce the new laws.
“Brokers are the major obstacle in enforcing the law as they ask farmers not to package the farm produce as required. After implementation, the move will safeguard both farmers and traders,” the governor said.
Farmers have decried lack of certified seeds, pests and disease infestation, fluctuating market prices and exploitation by brokers as some of the issues bedeviling the potato subsector in the Rift Valley region.
Despite the government standardising the packaging of farm produce at 50kg, brokers have not adhered to the rule. counties have consistently failed to implement the policy over the last six years.
“It is the same story in the entire region: exploitation, huge investments and losses by the farmers but huge profits raked in by middlemen who control the markets,” said Peter Wanyoike, a potato farmer in Molo.
He said enforcement officers will be deployed across the county to implement the new regulations.
County governments, he said, want farmers to get returns from their work without being exploited by unscrupulous traders.
"Our focus is to ensure that farmers are not exploited and get value for money," he said.
County Agriculture executive Immaculate Maina said the county has developed a bill to address some of the problems surrounding food security.
With Nakuru becoming a city, there is a need to start focusing on urban agriculture, she said.
“Nakuru is becoming a city and with a population of close to a million people there is need to stand thinking about our food systems,” Maina said.