Potato farmers in Nakuru County are staring at heavy losses due to the ongoing heavy rains which have waterlogged the farms and also contributed to the increase of the infamous bright disease that affects tuber size.
The County potato expert, Peter Gaturuku, said the yields were likely to be reduced by half and since the county is the second-highest in the crop production, consumers should prepare for high prices and shortage countrywide.
The Chairman of the Nakuru Potato Co-operative Union, Josiah Kamau said the worst affected potatoes were the destiny variety, which cannot withstand flooded shambas. But he said the shangi variety was performing slightly better, however, farmers keep on spraying after every four to five days to reduce the effect of the bright disease.
Kamau said the spraying was beyond the capacity of 80 per cent of their farmers because it costs Sh.1400 to spray one acre and some farmers have stopped because they are not sure of a good harvest.
He said much as the rains were beyond anybody’s control, it would have been better if the potato farmers had been warned against planting since the heavy losses were likely to affect them for a long time.
Currently, an extended sack of potato, which weighs 80kg, is selling at Sh. 2300 at the farm gate, but the rains have made it hard for Lorries to pick the potatoes.
However, Gaturuku encouraged the farmers to keep on spraying against the bright disease, because those who would sustain a good harvest were likely to smile all the way to the bank, and the demands will be very high.
Potatoes are the second most consumed food in the country and any slight shortage affects the nation’s food security.
By Veronica Bosibori