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    IrishpotatoesPatrickNjengaKimendeLaban.JPG

    Kiambu County farmer, Patrick Njenga, harvesting potatoes from his Kimende farm in 2016. International organisations are working to contract over 23,000 farmers so enable them access potao markets. Photo by Laban Robert.

    International organizations have started working together in supporting the more than 800,000 potato farmers access markets besides enabling processors receive a constant flow of quality produce.

    In the plan, at least 23,000 farmers from various are to be contracted to deliver at least 63.5 tonnes of the potatoes by mid 2019.

    But the overall outlook is to have a total monthly yield of 2,650 tonnes to selected processors.

    The East Africa Potato Consortium (EAPC), which was formed in 2015 out of a partnership of Grow Africa, Alliance for a Green Revolution Africa and the National Potato Council, will oversee the contracting process.

    There are about 800,000 potato farmers in Meru, Nyandarua, Nakuru, Elgeyo Marakwet, Laikipia, Bungoma, among other counties in Kenya.

    But the market has remained a challenge with the intervention of middlemen in the purchase of quality seeds and marketing leaves them exploited.

    Under the new partnership, processors will also have a constant supply of the goods, Grow Africa Head of East and Southern Africa Leah Kasera said.

    “Farmers produce about 2.8 tonnes of potatoes per acre instead of 12. Maximum yield can be realised with quality seeds, good management practices, among other production factors,” Kasera said.

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    Certified seeds would not only guarantee high yields for farmers, but also give the best shape for the potatoes to meet the desire of the processors.

    Besides, fast food chips, potatoes are processed into crisps and other products to extend the shelf life and expand the market reach for more earnings.

    The Sereni Fries Processing Company Managing Director Humphrey Mburu said the machines are working on about five tonnes per day instead of maximum 15 tonnes required.

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    Maize green Osman Jumbe Mombasa ASK by Laban Robert.JPG

    Olerai Seeds Company Limited sales representative checks a maize cob for maturity during the 2016 ASK Show in Mombasa. Green maize price has triples in Mombasa. Photo by Laban Robert.

    The cost of green maize in Mombasa has tripled as the shortage for the country's staple food spreads due to the ongoing.

    Zacchary Masing’a, a maize trader at the Kongowea Market in Mombasa, said the price has risen up by more than three times in the past seven months.

    A 115kg bag filled with maize is bought at an average of Sh5,800 though at times it fluctuates between Sh5,700 and Sh6,000 depending on the supply per day.

    The cost of maize, which is the country’s staple food, has tripled since November 2016. This is attributed to low rainfall in the country, affecting even food-rich counties in the Rift valley region.

    Mombasa County neighbours Kilifi, and Kwale Counties, which have been hit by the ongoing famine alongside Tana River and Taita-Taveta.

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    More than 90 per cent of the farm produce is ‘imported’ from up country and Tanzania.

    The price in Mombasa is thrice what wholesalers in Nakuru are paying for the same quantity of maize- Sh1,800.

    Masinga said when the maize in plenty, more so in the Rift Valley, the same quantity costs less than Sh1,000.

    Green maize is boiled or roasted for sale in the market streets and along the roads of major towns in the country. Roast maize, which costs Sh20 is retailing at between Sh10 and Sh40. A piece that was sold for Sh5 is costing Sh10, Masing'a said.

    But more others buy the fresh produce for mixing with beans for a delicacy commonly called pure in Swahili, githeri in Kikuyu, Nyoyo in Dholuo, eyoyo in Ekegusii among other names.

    According to Soko+, an online agribusiness pricelist source, a 115kg of green maize costs Sh2,260 in Nairobi, Sh2,520 in Kisumu and Sh2160 in Eldoret.

    The few farmers who are producing the available maize in the various part of the country including central Kenya are relying on irrigation.

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