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Blow to Chips Lover After The Following Development

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The prices of Irish potatoes have increased fourfold due to the ongoing drought and high demand occasioned by low harvests in Nakuru County, which is one of the major producers.

The chairman of the Wakulima market in the city, Peter Maina said the suppressed short rains between October and December last year occasioned substantive losses for farmers and are currently relying on potatoes from Narok County, which cannot meet the high demand.

He said due to the high demand, and the cost of transporting the potatoes, a ten-litre tin popular known as ‘debe’ was selling at sh.700 compared to Sh.250 at the beginning of the year. He was speaking to KNA today at the wakulima market.

Maina said the banning of the shamba system, where local people neighbouring forests were allowed to grow potatoes as they nurtured the trees was the greatest blow to the small scale farmers who own one to two acres, and due to soil exhaustion and acidity, the yields dwindled..

He urged the government to reconsider the policy, otherwise, the country might soon be required to import potatoes from the neighbouring countries whose soils have not been as affected as the local ones.

He said two years ago, when the rains were favourable farmers realised Sh7.7 billion from 39,000 hectares, however, the climate change has impacted negatively on the farmers since the crop requires adequate rainfall.  

The chairman noted that potato farming indirectly employs producers, market agents, transporters, processors, vendors and retailers who are mainly women at the local markets adding that any effect on the crop affects families at a very personal level, from food to money in their pockets.

Potatoes are mostly grown in Njoro, Molo, Kuresoi, Rongai, Bahati and Subukia sub- counties. The value chain is characterized by small scale farmers who own between five and two hectares of land. They prefer the crop because it matures faster, and has a higher demand.