6 February 2019

Kenyan Food Outlets Reel From Acute Shortage of Irish Potatoes

Photo: Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti/The New Times
Irish potatoes in Musanze market.

Kenya's eateries are reeling from an acute shortage of Irish potatoes with the Agriculture ministry putting the supply gap at 1.7 million metric tonnes.

The deficit has pushed up the price of the commodity by at least 25 per cent as hotels and households turn to imports.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said farmers must use certified seeds to increase yields.

"In the next one year we are going to meet the deficit by ensuring that farmers use certified seed. To date, the total production of seeds is at 6,700 metric tonnes short of the 30,000 metric tonnes required," he said.

Mr Kiunjuri said that with improved seeds farmers will b able to harvest 10 metric tonnes equivalent to 88 bags of potatoes per hectare.

He said that farmers will also be able to generate seeds from their harvest for another three generations, saving them the cost of new seeds.

Mr Kiunjuri said that potatoes lack a standard measure, adding that Parliament is set to regulate the measure in kilogrammes. Currently potatoes are sold in extended sacks.

"The point of focus is on potato regulation, there are a number of things that are not okay and this has led to the exploitation of farmers by brokers," he said.

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