• New potato regulations to come in force immediately, says agriculture CS.
• Traders will be expected to sell potatoes to consumers in kilos and not in buckets.
New potato regulations to come in force immediately
Potato farmers will now be required to register with the county governments, according to a new regulations.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said this will help the government collect data on the number of potato farmers in the country.
While launching the Irish Potato Regulations 2019 on Friday at the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation headquarters said the maximum weight unit package shall be 50 kgs bag and not the extended bag that weights 110kgs.
“The government is also planning to establish potato collection centres in the potato growing areas hence the need for registration. It is more of a supportive initiative rather than restrictive,” Wachira Kaguongo CEO of the National Potato Council of Kenya.
Kiunjuri said potato is the second most important staple crop after maize in our country.
“The crop is increasingly becoming more so given the level of urbanization and changing consumption patterns. It also has immense opportunities for value addition and commercialization,” he said.
The CS said for the last one year, the Ministry has provided the necessary stakeholder leadership to deliver the required regulatory frameworks for the main crops including potato, coffee, horticulture and tea.
The Potato Regulations were gazetted in early April and they were acceded to by the National Assembly in the first week of May 2019.
The regulations are focused on curbing malpractices associated with the use of extended bags, quality assurance and marketing and licensing of actors in the potato value chain among other issues.
Kiunjuri said the ministry also plans to increase basic and certified seed production.
“This will be done through expanding production capacity of both KALRO and ADC laboratories, increasing the land under irrigation for potato production, and sensitizing farmers to scale-up the use of certified potato seeds. This will be accompanied by other value chain support services and infrastructural development such as cold rooms and aggregation centers,” Kiunjuri said.
He appealed the support of Governors in the potato growing regions to embrace and support the implementation of these Regulations.
“Our farming communities and other critical stakeholders need to be sensitized on the new regulatory requirements of the Regulations,” Kiunjuri said.
Meanwhile the Kenya Defense Forces at Gilgil in Nakuru County have started value addition in various crops including potatoes, carrots, kales, cabbages, onions and mixed vegetables.
The products were showcased at the Potato Conference that was held last week at Kalro headquarters.
Martha Mwamburi said the factory at the army barrack has been doing value addition to not only provide food for the soldiers but the innovation also helps in reducing post harvest losses.
The potatoes, carrots, kales, cabbages, onions and mixed vegetables are washed, piled and cut. After that we blanch (process of boiling the products to kill enzymes), dry and packaged.
“The products have a shelf-life of one year and they still retain the nutritional value. The products are currently available at the Delmere stop-over in Naivasha. But we are planning to start selling the packaged products in Naivas supermarkets from next month,” she said.
She said to make the one-kilo packet of irish potatoes, they have used about 20kgs of fresh potatoes of the Shangi varieties. To cook potatoes and carrots, one needs to soak in cold water for about four hours or two hours in hot water then cook as usual.
One kg packet of potatoes is selling at Sh1, 200, one kilo of carrots Sh1, 100, 250 grams of mixed vegetables (carrots, spinach, kales and cabbages) at Sh230, 250gms of kales at Sh240 while 500gms of cabbages, spinach and onions are selling at Sh500, Sh520 and Sh580 respectively.