Kenya’s food outlets reel from acute shortage of Irish potatoes

The deficit has pushed up the price of the commodity by at least 25 per cent
A street vendor piles potatoes for sale on a road leading into Nairobi, Kenya, 24 October 2007. According to a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on the state of the global environment, developing countries will probably need 120 million more hectares to feed themselves by 2030. The UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4) report is the culmination of five years of work by hundreds of experts across the world. AFP PHOTO/Simon MAINA (Photo by SIMON MAINA / AFP)

Kenya’s eateries are currently reeling from an acute shortage of Irish potatoes with the Agriculture ministry putting the supply gap at 1.7 million metric tonnes.

The deficit has pushed up the price of the commodity by at least 25 per cent pushing hotels and households to 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 metric tonnes short of the 30,000 metric tonnes required,” he said.

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Kiunjuri said that with improved seeds, farmers will be able to harvest 10 metric tonnes 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.

Mr Kiunjuri said that potatoes lack a standard measure, adding 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.

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