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Good news for farmers as potato prices double in Nairobi

potato sack
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It is good news for potato farmers in the county as the price of potatoes has doubled over the last two months from between Sh400- Sh500 per bucket to Sh800 to Sh1000.

The National Potato Council of Kenya attributes the rise in prices to the recent long rains which may destroyed the produce in the farms leading to shortage.

The rise in prices is also attributed to the Kenya Plant Inspectorate Service, the regulatory body of agricultural inputs in the country prohibiting farmers from importing potato seeds from Tanzania so as to protect farmers from pests and diseases.

The council says that the prices will go down from next month when harvesting season begins.  


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Sacks of potatoes for sale. Courtesy

Potatoes are the second most important food after maize in Kenya. The crop is grown by approximately 800,000 smallholder farmers, employ 2.7m actors along the marketing channels and contribute over Sh50bn to the Kenyan economy.

However, the productivity level of the crop stands at less than 10 tonnes per hectare vis-a-vis the maximum production of 40 tonnes which is too low if potatoes are to be primed as a significant contributor to food security. The biggest challenge faced by farmers for increased potato production is lack of certified seeds.

Potato farmers in Kenya currently grow Shangi, Asante, Tigoni, Kenya Mpya, Desiree, Kenya Karibu and Sherehekea varieties.

The top potato producing counties are Nyandarua, Meru, Nyeri, Kiambu, Taita Taveta, Nakuru, Narok, Bomet, Elgeyo Marakwet, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, Uasin Gishu and West Pokot; other potato producing counties include Kisii, Nyamira, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Baringo, Nandi, Laikipia and Kericho.

Upcoming potential potato producing counties include Machakos, Makueni, Embu, Kajiado, Tharaka Nithi, Samburu, Kwale and Nairobi. The leading production counties are Nyandarua (29.8 per cent), Nakuru (18.9 per cent) and Elgeyo Marakwet (16.2 per cent).

Large scale farmers countrywide harvest approximately 60-80 bags of 110 kilograms per acre while small holder farmers harvest 30-50 bags of 110 kilograms per acre; this against a potential production of 150 bags per hectare for a 110 kilogram bag.

“A majority of potato farmers keep recycling seeds due to inadequate availability of clean disease free potato seeds in the country,” said Maureen Mwagangi, a plant inspector at KEPHIS.


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