Kenya’s culinary establishments are reeling from an acute shortage of Irish potatoes. The Agriculture Ministry puts the supply gap at 1.7 million tons. The deficit has pushed up the price of the commodity by at least 25 per cent. Hotels and households turn to imports.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said farmers must use certified seeds to increase yields. “In the next one year we are going to meet the deficit by ensuring that farmers use certified seed. To date, the total production of seeds is at 6,700 tons short of the 30,000 tons required.”
Mr Kiunjuri said that with improved seeds farmers will be able to harvest 10 tons equivalent to 88 bags of potatoes per hectare. He said that farmers will also be able to generate seeds from their harvest for another three generations, saving them the cost of new seeds.
Kiunjuri added that potatoes lack a standard measure, and said that Parliament is set to regulate the measure in kilograms. Currently potatoes are sold in extended sacks. “The point of focus is on potato regulation, there are a number of things that are not okay and this has led to the exploitation of farmers by brokers,” he said.