• Traders required to buy potatoes in 50-kilo bags and not the 110kg gunny bags according to the regulation.
• Some traders have been arrested for not complying to the law.
Potato growing counties have started implementing a new law requiring the produce be packaged in 50kg bags, Agriculture CAS Andrew Tuimur has said.
But brokers are still defying the law and some arrests have been made. The Irish potato regulations were gazetted on April 5.
Tuimur said traders have been buying and selling potatoes in gunny bags or in buckets and exploiting farmers in the process.
“From potatoes, we will be moving to carrots and tomatoes to ensure that farmers will be selling them in kgs and not in sacks and crates,” he said.
The CAS said the move is to ensure that farmers maximise on their profits and are not exploited by the middlemen.
Each crop will have its regulation, “but we will borrow heavily from the Irish potato regulation,” Tuimur told the Star yesterday.
Offenders of the new regulations on conviction are liable to a fine not exceeding Sh500,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or both.
National Potato Council CEO Wachira Kaguongo said Nyeri, Nakuru, Nyandarua, Narok and Elgeyo Marakwet are among the major potato growing counties in the country.
Kaguongo said the national and county governments are working to have the 50kg packaging and pricing rates implemented first.
“We want to start implementing it immediately because it does not require any resources. Farmers have been exploited for a long time and it is time we ended this,” he said.
Kaguongo said the law also calls for registration of potato farmers, organisations and traders and the establishment of collection centres.
He emphasised that they are not keen on arresting persons not complying with the law but on sensitisation of stakeholders.
Last week Nakuru county put a notice in a local daily notifying all the growers, producers, processors, marketing agents, dealers, transporters and all other stakeholders in the potato industry that Irish potato regulations are now in force.
“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 read.
The notice also warned that inspectors would impound Irish potato packaged and transported in a manner that does not conform to the requirements.
(edited by O. Owino)