Potato farmers to reap huge from new deals by counties

Thursday, January 21st, 2021 00:00 |
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjiu (right) and his Elgeyo Marakwet counterpart Alex Tolgos (left) sign a joint pact yesterday that will enable six potato growing counties to enforce new rules. Photo/PD/Kirera Mwiti

Potato farmers from six growing counties are set to reap big after regions entered into a pact governing packaging of the commodity.

Initiative is seeking to end exploitation by middlemen who have been ripping off farmers. 

Under the pact entered by Nakuru, Nyandarua, Narok, Elgeyo Marakwet, Uasin Gishu and West Pokot counties, all traders will have to pack the produce in a 50-kilogramme bag.

Further, newly gazetted crop inspectors will have powers to confiscate, arrest and prosecute those that contravene the rule.

This emerged when the governors and representatives from the six counties met in Lake Naivasha Resort to strategise on the way forward.

Addressing the press after the meeting, Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui called on the National Government to assist in enforcing the new regulations.

He called on the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure all county crops inspectors were gazetted to make it easier to enforce the laws.

Kinyanjui said  the sector has employed over one million families, adding that the six counties would in the next one month come up with grading guidelines.

“We are asking the State to ensure potatoes coming from neighbouring countries of Uganda and Tanzania conform to the new regulations in terms of packaging,” he said.

He called for the formation of a taskforce, which would develop a structured framework, and agricultural land policy that would transform the sector and increase potato production.

“Anyone who contravenes any provision of the regulations commits an offence and is liable to a jail term or even a fine of Sh0.5m,” he said. 

On his part, Elgeyo Markwet Governor Alex Tolgos appluaded the court for lifting an order that had barred the devolved units  from implementing the packaging rule.

Tolgos siad they were keen to work as one team to fully implement the regulations and protect farmers who had been exploited for long.

Most consumed

“We are keen to protect our farmers from brokers and we shall ensure they get value for their produce,” he said.

Nyandarua deputy Governor Cecelia Mbuthia said the county produces 33 per cent of the potatoes consumed in the country, but farmers had little to show for it.

“Potato is the mainstay crop of many farmers in the country, unfortunately the focus has been on the tea, dairy and coffee sectors. There is a need to change that,” she said.

Her Uasin Gichu counterpart, Daniel Chemno, echoed her sentiment, saying  potato was the most consumed produce after rice.

“Farmers in Rift Valley who for years have relied on maize are keen to change to other crops like potatoes which have high financial value,” he said.

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