Farmers Kinangop are expecting better returns following construction of a potato processing plant in Engineer town.
The multi-million Engineer Foods Processing plant will address the perennial challenges of poor prices due to lack of market.
The plant, to be officially opened next week, has the capacity to process one tonne of potatoes per hour. It will ensure farmers get better returns through value addition, while addressing post-harvest losses.
Local farmers have been suffering after the Midland Food Processing Factory was closed years ago due to an ownership dispute.
Danson Ndegwa, the managing director of the new plant, said farmers had gone through untold suffering following exploitation by brokers.
He said lack of support from the national government had also complicated lives of the farmers.
Mr Ndegwa, who addressed journalists after visiting the plant, said unlike brokers who bought potatoes in sacks, they would measure the produce in kilogrammes.
“For years farmers in Kinangop, which produces a lot of potatoes, have had little to show for their massive investments and hard work. However, the factory will give them a new lease of life by processing their produce and offer them a reliable market,” he said.
Ndegwa said the company had already contracted farmers to supply it with the commodity.
He said the company had hired specialists who would advise the farmers on best practices, free of charge, to improve production.
“The biggest challenges farmers here have been facing in the production of potatoes are post-harvest losses, poor quality seeds, exploitation by brokers and lack of storage facilities. However, all these will now be addressed by our agronomists,” Ndegwa said.
Jesse Kamutu, a local farmer, termed the new factory a major relief for farmers.
“Apart from poor prices and lack of market, farmers do not get certified seeds. We are therefore happy that all these challenges will now be addressed,” he said.