The Nakuru County government has pledged to enforce laws that curb exploitation of carrot farmers by middlemen as it plans to set up a regional export market of the crop targeting consumers within the East African Community.
The County Executive for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Dr Immaculate Maina, said the administration was also committed to rescuing farmers from poor markets by helping them harvest quality produce and access international markets by sticking to export rules and regulations
Speaking in her office after holding talks with officials of Mau View Carrot Farmers’ Sacco Dr Maina stated her department was in talks with national government and development partners to help farmers avoid post-harvest loses through establishment of cold rooms and carrot value addition factories.
Dr Maina revealed that members of the Sacco were exporting 2,850 bags of the produce per week to Uganda adding most farmers, were not tapping its maximum potential because they were not members of cooperatives.
She observed that adherence to food safety regulations by carrot farmers will help them penetrate regional and international markets and offer them better prices.
“Nakuru County has the potential to feed the region’s demand for carrots. Farmers must ensure that only quality carrots are produced and marketed. Harvesting and export of immature crops negatively affects Kenya’s image in overseas markets.
The County Government will provide training on proper agronomical to enable farmers improve their pesticide residue level limit and ensure food safety standards are observed. Farmers willing to export their produce should have valid licenses and be registered as exporters or else, their produce will be impounded at border points,” the CEC observed.
While also citing the existence of many brokers as a hindrance to market growth, Dr Maina said the county administration was in consultation with policy makers and stakeholders in Uganda, Tanzania and other regional markets to study existing laws and regulations.
Dr Maina said brokers were taking advantage of an inefficient supply chain for the perishable farm produce. The beneficiaries, Dr Maina noted, were mostly wealthy business people.
In January, the County administration raised the red flag after learning that middlemen were buying a 150-kg bag of carrots at Shs 1,000 and disposing of the same in neighbouring counties for Sh3,500 a bag despite the high cost of production.
A farmer Collins Kamau told KNA that those who failed to sell to the brokers were often unable to find other buyers hence leaving their carrots to rot in the farms.
“We have good weather patterns that improve the quality and quantity of our carrots, but we need better ways to deal with brokers who continue to exploit farmers,” said Mr Kamau.
Other farmers claimed some unscrupulous brokers were demanding that they pack the carrots in 350-kg extended bags.
by Anne Mwale