Potato farmers are set to reap big after Agricultural Food Authority (AFA) yesterday launched a national-wide crackdown against cartels flaunting potato packaging regulations as stipulated in the crops act 2013.
Speaking during the official launch in Meru, County AFA Director-General Kello Harsama said the authority has joined hands with various agencies as well as county governments to ensure full implementation of the regulations.
He said the move was solely meant to benefit potato farmers who have been impoverished by brokers and cartels in the sector.
“We are coming in to save farmers who have been rendered poor by brokers and cartels who have been illegally earning from the farmers ‘sweats,” said Harsama.
He said after the launch, the exercise will be rolled out to other nine potato-farming counties as well as major markets in the country including Wakulima in Nairobi, Kongowea in Mombasa among others.
To ensure the regulations were effectively implemented, the Director-General added, the authority has put in place County Irish Potatoes Packaging Implementation Committees headed by respective County Commissioners and sub-counties at sub-county level that will be headed by Deputy County Commissioners.
“Potatoes have been seriously mishandled by brokers who force farmers to use extended bags hence making losses. We are coming in to end this trend and we will sustain the regulations implementation exercise to ensure sanity in the sector,” said Harsama.
He said they were doing everything at their disposal to ensure they reclaim the agricultural sector from greedy cartels who have apparently held it hostage.
“We want Kenyans to be assured of regular food supply and this will be possible by ensuring we wipe out all the cartels who have invaded potatoes, carrots, tea, coffee among other agricultural crops,” said Harsama.
If this is not done, he added, the country will eventually have no farmers venturing into potato and other agricultural crops farming for fear of losses.
He said that the the law requires all food products for sale must be packaged in 50 kilogram-bag and those who flaunt this should be arrested and be treated like other law-breakers.
He said the authority has already sensitised farmers about the regulations through the county governments and local administrators.
Meru County Commissioner Kariuki Ngumo said they have mobilised their officers ready to reinforce the regulations as stipulated in the constitution.
The exercise is targeting all the value chains in the potato farming sub-sector.
By Margaret Makaa and Dickson Mwiti