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State to put up Sh100m potato plant



The government has launched construction of a Sh100 million cold storage plant in Meru to help farmers preserve surplus Irish potato harvest.

The plant construction is expected to end in September and is similar to two others being built by the State in Kisii and Nyandarua.

The firm in Ngusishi, Buuri West sub-County will carry 600 tonnes of potatoes for a period of up to eight months.

"The facility will help to reduce post harvest losses for potato farmers in the region, increase farmers' income and eliminate middlemen from the supply chain," said Small and Micro Enterprises Authority Managing Director Henry Rithaa.

"The Ministry of Agriculture is also working on rolling out warehouse receipting so that farmers can use receipts from warehouses as security to access loans."

Mr Rithaa encouraged potato farmers to form cooperatives so that they can produce enough potatoes to sustain the store's operation.

Trade and Industrialisation Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Lawrence Karanja said the plant would save one third of the harvest, which farmers lose every season to spoilage.

Following an outcry over implementation of the 50kg packaging directive for Irish potatoes, Karanja called on all local and national government agencies to work together to ensure that all counties are compliant.

The CAS, while handing over the project to Abbey Construction Ltd, warned against delays and delivery of shoddy work.

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