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Potato plant to benefit farmers

Perennial fluctuations in potato prices and exploitation by brokers might be a thing of the past for potato farmers from Kinangop area in Nyandarua County following the construction of a private potato processing plant in the area.
According to the plant manager Danson Ndegwa, the multi-million Engineer Food Processing plant located at Engineer town will address the perennial problem of low prices and lack of market for the popular produce.
Ndegwa said the plant will be officially opened next week and has the capacity to process one tonne of potatoes per hour which will address the issue of post-harvest losses and value addition.
For years, farmers in the area have made losses due to lack of market after the Midland Food processing factory closed its doors several years ago over ownership wrangles.
The manager regretted that farmers in Nyandarua had gone through afflictions due to exploitation by brokers and lack of support from the national government.
He however, assured that the new plant will be buying in kilogrammes unlike the brokers, who bought produce in sacks.
Addressing the press after visiting the plant, Ndegwa said farmers in Kinangop which is the main producer of potatoes in the region, had little to show for their sweat and said the plant will process their potatoes thus offering them a wide market.
He said the company had already contracted farmers in the region to supply them with potatoes and that for now the company will start with farmers from Kinangop area before sourcing for more from neighboring regions in the coming months.
Ndegwa said the company had employed agronomists who will be engaging the farmers free of charge with a view to helping them improve on their production.
He noted that farmers were facing challenges of lack of market and other challenges including post-harvest losses, poor quality of seeds and storage.
“We plan to also engage the youth in the area to encourage them to start farming as this is now becoming a lucrative trade,” he said.
One of the leading potato farmers in Kinangop Jesse Kamutu hailed the venture saying it will give farmers an opportunity to market their produce and improve on the quality of their produce through the supply of certified seeds by the company.
By Esther Mwangi/Hannah Wangui

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