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Potato farmers count losses

By Mercy Kahenda | July 15th 2020

Potato farmers in Nakuru are counting losses following low prices of the commodity amid high production costs.

Output was high due to ample rains, but farmers are now struggling to find markets, partly due to the impact of Covid-19. 

Regina Wanjiru, a farmer in Mau Narok, said they are forced to sell the produce to brokers at low prices. A 110-kilogramme bag is selling at between Sh1,700 and Sh2,000 despite their expectations of about Sh3,000.

“Previously, I could supply 50 bags of potatoes to markets in Eldoret, but after the Covid-19 pandemic, I have nowhere to sell the produce,” said Ms Wanjiru. “To avoid total losses, I sell a bag as low as Sh800.”

Mugoko Juma’s crop on a 35-acre farm is ready for harvest, but he is not sure if he should wait until he gets better market.

The farmer expects to harvest about 80 bags of 50 kilogrammes per acre.

Juma, who has been farming for the past eight years, was expecting to sell each bag at not less than Sh2,400.

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During planting in March, a 50-kilogramme bag of fertiliser was selling at between Sh2,800 and Sh3,000 depending on variety.

“A bag of 75 kilos (of potatoes) is fetching as low as Sh1,500 at a time we expected it to be selling at about Sh2,500. This is a big loss because we need to harvest and replant,” said Juma.

Areas, where potato is grown in bulk in Nakuru County, include Mau Narok, Kuresoi North, Kuresoi South, Njoro and Molo.

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.

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