When A Bag Of Potatoes Costs Same As A Plate Of Fries

By Getrude Mathayo / Published July 29, 2021 | 11:18 am




KEY POINTS

With 290,000 tonnes annually, Elgeyo Marakwet is one of the largest counties in that produce potatoes. But they are among the poorest farmers in Kenya as people continue to capitalize on their ignorance by exploiting them with poor prices.


Irish potatoes Farmers in Elgeyo Marakwet preparing their potatoes for sale at a loss.

Will farmers in this country ever enjoy the fruits of their labor? Will the Kenyan farmers ever know what it feels like reaping where you sow? Maize farmers are frustrated and have abandoned the crop and the pain of potato farmers is out of this world.

Middle-men will always reap millions from farmers and farmers will always continue being poor. Imagine tilling your land, buying the seeds, planting, and taking care of your crop only for someone who just sat on his bottoms to make more money than you.

Now, imagine a bag of potatoes costing the same as a plate of fries/chips in most hotels in Nairobi. Does this make any economic sense for anyone? This is what farmers in Elgeyo Marakwet are going through in the hands of unscrupulous middlemen.

In Elgeyo Marakwet, a bag of potatoes is going for 500 shillings. And the farmer does not get the whole 500 shillings. He still has to pay for loading and harvesting at around 200 shillings. The farmer ends up with just 300 shillings. Sad. Sad.

Potato is the second most important crop in Kenya after maize in terms of consumption. Its production in some parts of the country has increased as the price fall to the lowest in years. But the price of fries has always been constant in high-end restaurants.

Even with the crop being the second most staple food that Kenyans depend on; stakeholders have complained about low price of the commodity in most parts of the country. This crop is very crucial towards contributing to the growth of the economy of Kenya, therefore requires attention both in terms of resources and long-term planning

Close to a million farmers across the country grow potatoes, which contributes over 50 billion shillings to the country’s economy every year. Nevertheless, most of these farmers grow them in small scale and they produce a total of 85 percent of the national production.

With 290,000 tonnes annually, Elgeyo Marakwet is one of the largest counties in that produce potatoes. But they are among the poorest farmers in Kenya as people continue to capitalize on their ignorance by exploiting them with poor prices.

According to Standard, farmers from Lelan and Kapyego in Marakwet Sub-County as well as those from Chepkorio in Keiyo South who had quit pyrethrum for the quick and huge money from potatoes are now counting huge loses as middlemen dictate prices.

Fertilizers prices is one of the challenges facing farmers as 50-kilogram bag going for 3000 shillings. Pest and blight control has also increased, pushing farmers the cost of production high.

According to the reports at the county’s NGAAF office, 3.6 million potato cooling stores were built by the National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) where each of the four cooling stores were constructed at 900,000 shillings.

The lowest price of a 90 Kilogram bag of Irish potatoes has been recorded in Elgeyo Marakwet with a 90-kilogram bag retailing at 500 shillings, after deduction of harvesting and loading charges, which are 100 shillings and 50 shillings respectively, the farmer remains with 350 shillings only.

In other markets like Kisumu, a 50-kilogram bag of Irish potatoes is retailing at 3,200 shillings while in Nairobi, it is retailing at 3,100 shillings.

A 50-kilogram bag of Irish Potatoes is retailing at 3,500 shillings in Kakamega, 3,700 shillings in Mombasa, 3,200 shillings in Busia.

Read More: Farmers’ Livelihood Threatened as Kenyan Tea Hits a 5-Year Low







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