Potato farmers in Nakuru, Kenya are counting losses following low prices of the commodity amid high production costs. The output which was high due to ample rains, is proving to be difficult to offset partly due to the impact of Covid-19 as farmers struggle to find markets.
According to local media reports, farmers are now forced to sell to brokers at low prices. For instance, a 110-kilogramme bag is selling at between US $15.82 (Sh1,700) and US $18.62 (Sh2,000) despite their expectations of about US $27.92 (Sh3,000).
Previously, a single farmer could could supply 50 bags of potatoes to markets in Eldoret, but after the Covid-19 pandemic, they don’t have market for their produce. As a result, most are selling off their bags for as low as US $7.45 (Sh800) to avoid losses.
Areas where potato is grown in bulk in Nakuru County include Mau Narok, Kuresoi North, Kuresoi South, Njoro and Molo.
The Chief Officer of Agriculture Joel Kibet asked farmers to establish groups to help them get markets with better prices. He said through groups, they can also venture into value addition to cut losses.
The National Potato Council of Kenya reports that potatoes are the second most important food and cash crop 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 US $465m to the Kenyan economy.
The major irish potato growing regions in Kenya include Nyandarua, Nakuru, Elgeyo Marakwet, Meru, Nyeri, Kiambu, Taita Taveta, Narok, Bomet, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, Uasin Gishu, West Pokot, Kisii, Nyamira, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Baringo, Nandi, Laikipia and Kericho.