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Potato shortage hits Meru

Gakoromone market has been facing a shortage of potatoes for the past two months and there seems to be no remedy soon.

Speaking to KNA, one of the potato traders Mrs Dina Kagiri said the decline in the supply of the product was caused by a number of factors including the high cost of farm inputs such as seeds, pesticides, and diseases but the major contributor to poor yields was due to the climate change phenomena.

“The major cause of this shortage is high cost of farming incurred from planting time till harvest and this can be attributed to the high cost of farm inputs. The cost is high to be borne by the majority of farmers hence the shortage that we are experiencing at the moment,” said Ms Kagiri.

As a result, the high cost of production has automatically led to the shooting of potato prices leading to low-profit margins for traders.

She said a 50-kilogram sack of potatoes was at the moment selling at Sh4500 which is also not affordable to many consumers.

“Sometimes we are forced to reduce the prices of the potatoes to favor our daily customers and this affects us negatively as one can make as low as Sh200 from a sack of potatoes,” said Ms Kagiri.

Mr James Mutethia, another potato trader from the market confirmed that the shortage has really affected their returns and they were only sticking to the business due to lack of an alternative.

“When the production of potatoes was high from the farms, we used to make as much as Sh1000 from a sack of potatoes but the decline is at the moment unimaginable,” said Mr Mutethia.

The traders are now left with no other option but to hope that everything will get better soon so that they can at least satisfy their daily customers.

“We are calling on the government through the ministry of agriculture to come up with more potato varieties that fit our region so that its productivity cannot be compromised even when the rains are inadequate,” said Mr Mutethia.

By Brendah Wanja and Michael Otieno

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