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Potatoes law does not apply to peasant farmers

Potato farmers whose area of cultivation falls from four acres and below are not supposed to register with the county government annually in order to grow and deal in the crop.

The Irish Potatoes Regulations, requiring farmers to register with the county government and growers association every year, allows for these Smallholder farmers to join these associations at will.

The law, passed in 2019 that is set to be implemented in Nyandarua County and other parts of the country, requires growers, transporters, dealers and processors to register with the counties, failure to which they faced up to Sh5million fines or three years imprisonment or both.

The law also demands that potatoes be packaged in approved clean materials that allow for flow of air, and not exceeding 50 Kilos.

“Failure to use unregistered pest control products attracts up to Sh500, 000 in fine.

“No person shall operate any premises as a collection centre unless the premises are registered and designated as a collection centre by the respective county government,” reads in part the Kenya Subsidiary Legislation of 2019.

Residents of Nyandarua county had been rattled by the implementation of the law, noting that annual registration was unnecessary for peasant farmers.

“If you don’t register to grow Irish Potatoes and you grow them, you are going to jail for one year…soon you will have to supply the local police with an inventory of your clothes,” wondered Boniface Mwangi, on his Twitter account, while alluding to the law.

The law that will be enforced by the Agriculture and Food Authority demands the grading of potatoes based on shape, variety, quality and size among other things. Exporters will be required to register with the Authority.

Agriculture and Food Authority’s Director, Beatrice Nyamwamu, while launching the training of the National Government Administration Officers to help in the enforcement last week, noted that the continuous enforcement was geared towards fair play to farmers, transporters and traders.

“The production, packaging and transportation to markets starts at the farm level and therefore if good work is done at the farm level, we will have little enforcement at the markets.

“We want to see a maximum of 50kg being sold at all markets as Kenya is a signatory to the Labour Relations Organization that requires that anything handled manually does not exceed 50kgs for the health of our people,” Nyamwamu remarked.

Dealers will have to ensure that the packaged potatoes are well labelled stating the county of origin, variety, name of collection centre and date of harvest.

By Anne Sabuni

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