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Counties urged to enforce potatoes regulations

The  Potato  farmers from Nyandarua County now want all counties to enforce the new 50kg potato packaging regulation to ensure equal playing field among potatoes growers.

The  farmers claimed that farmers who had complied with the rule were incurring huge losses as brokers continued buying the extended bags from other counties and avoiding those from Nyandarua.

This came even as it emerged that the prices of the produce had dropped sharply due to over-production and low demand leaving the farmers counting losses.

A  Director  with Midland Vegetable Processing Plant in Kinangop area of Nyandarua, Matheri Wa Hungu said an extended bag of potatoes was selling at Sh.1,500 down from Sh.6,000 a month ago.

He  said that the market had been worsened by the brokers who were ignoring potatoes packed in the 50kg bags despite the gazettement of the potatoes regulation.

The farmers are now calling on the county governments involved in potato growing to ensure that the new law is enforced across the country to ensure fairness in the market place.

Matheri  added that the only permanent solution to the problem afflicting potatoes growers was establishment of processing plant for value addition in every county that grows the produce.

“In Kinangop we have the multi-billion Midland factory that has the capacity to process tens of tonnes every day but politics has derailed its operations,” he said.

The call for fair play comes even as enforcement officers from Nakuru County embarked on a major operation to crackdown on farmers and traders flouting the new potatoes law.

During the operation, one trader was arrested in Mai Mahiu cess collection point after he was found ferrying over 70 extended bags of potatoes to Nairobi from Narok.

The  Nakuru County CEC for Agriculture, Dr. Immaculate Maina said all the 15 potato growing counties were working together to make sure that the law was fully enforced.

She however, identified brokers as the major obstacle to enforcing the law as they were inciting farmers not to package the produce as required and warned that stiff measures will be taken against those found flouting the law.

Maina  further said that the 15 counties will next week issue a joint communiqué, adding that the law was meant to safe guard both the farmers and the traders in the free market.

The  Nakuru County Assembly has already approved a proposal to construct a potato processing plant in Mau Narok, Njoro in the coming financial year to promote value addition.

By  Esther  Mwangi/Brian  Kamau

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