Government seeks to control potato prices

Agriculture CS Peter Munya addressing farmers in Nakuru, recently. PHOTO/Jackson Okata, The Scholar Media Africa.

Lack of an organized potato market in the country is to blame for poor prices of the commodity, agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said.

Speaking during a farmers’ meeting in Molo, Nakuru County recently,  Munya said unlike commodities like milk whose prices have been set by the government, “setting potato prices is hard as there are no formal market structures for the produce.”

“There is no industry where potatoes are taken. This is unlike milk which is taken to processors and cooperatives. The only solution is for farmers to form and join cooperatives,” said Munya.

To cushion potato farmers in the region, Munya noted that the government was constructing cooling plants.

This would enable farmers to store their produce and use it as collateral to access credit facilities.

“Now you will be able to keep your produce safe as you wait for the prices to go up,” he said.

For a long time, potato farmers in Nakuru have decried low prices offered by buyers.

Low shelf life of potatoes coupled with lack of cooling and storage facilities has seen farmers give out their produce at throw away prices mainly to brokers.

Munya called on potato farmers to embrace the use of 50 kg bags when selling their produce to avoid exploitation from brokers.

Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui challenged the Ministry of Agriculture to come up with a scientific formula of determining prices of agricultural produce.

He said this will protect both farmers and consumers from price manipulation and exploitation.
“This will help remove the uncertainty over prices and protect farmers as well as consumers because it will help fix prices while at the same time factoring in the cost of living in the country,” said Kinyanjui.

At the same time, Kinyanjui decried low budgetary allocations given to the agriculture sector by both the national and county governments.

He observed that it will be practically impossible for Kenya to feed her population if the agriculture sector does not receive adequate funding.

“The low budgetary allocation for the agriculture sector is compromising the food security situation in the country,’’ said Kinyanjui.

Kinyanjui said that both national and county governments should increase allocation for the critical sector to the recommended 10%.
According to Kinyanjui, currently, most county government allocations for the agriculture department stand at between 4 and 6 percent.

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Jackson Okata is a freelance journalist with experience in both broadcast, print and online journalism. His areas of interest are Climate Change, Environment, Agribusiness, Technology, and Gender Empowerment. His contact:


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