A driver carrying sacks of potatoes weighing up to 76kg has been arrested for violating Ireland’s new potato regulation law.
Njoro County Deputy Commissioner John Mbugua said the enforcement team will ensure compliance with regulations to protect farmers.
“They had transport documents but unfortunately they did not comply with the packaging directive. They will have their day in court tomorrow. We call on everyone involved across the chain to support the regulation, ”Mbugua said.
This is the first crackdown on traders and carriers violating the regulation that entered into force in 2019 but was never fully implemented.
A multi-agency task force made up of county officials, administrative officers and county law enforcement officers that has been established in potato producing counties has started to enforce the law. Friday in Nessuit, in the sub-county of Njoro.
They have sought to ensure that all Irish potato haulers are registered, that a bag of potatoes weighs 50kg and that all storage units and runs are registered to ensure that high standards are maintained across the entire value chain.
According to the crop inspector in Njoro Stephen Kamau, agricultural agents have sensitized farmers through barazas, field days and exhibitions.
He encouraged other producer associations and collection centers to sign up for the campaign.
Kamau said this was the second time the team has gone out to inspect for regulatory compliance.
One of the farmers, Rael Rotich, said the regulations were helpful to farmers. However, she asked the government to set a ceiling price for the 50 kg sack so that farmers can get better income and also to crack down on middlemen.
Meanwhile, three groups of farmers in Molo and Kuresoi North sub-counties have benefited from high-value Irish potato seeds.
On Friday, self-help groups Turi Green, Ipinda and Koyum-Kokwet in the localities of Kwa Benjamin, Kaplelach and Soimet respectively, received 20 to 50 kilograms each of the Kenya Karibu variety of breeder’s seeds.
According to the Kenya Agriculture and Animal Research Organization (KALRO), this new variety will help farmers earn more income through increased yields and early maturity.
Lynnette Echessa, Nakuru County Potato Liaison Officer, who led the distribution, asked the groups to make sure the seeds are planted on uncontaminated soil.
The chairman of the Ipinda self-help group, Peter Kiprotich, admitted that farmers have had difficulties in the past in acquiring certified Irish potato seeds.
The county government is about to distribute 700 bags of seeds from Shangi, Kenya Karibu and Dutch Robin to farmers across the county. This project will cost over Sh1 million.
The seeds have so far been distributed in Kuresoi South and Molo and Kuresoi North sub-counties. The groups in the sub-counties of Bahati, Gilgil and Njoro will receive the Dutch Robin variety.
The county government will also train the groups on the best agronomic and gross margin analysis to enable them to reap more profits.
“I would like to thank our governor for supporting us with these certified seeds. We will store them well and share them with our neighbors once they multiply, ”said Paul Loris, chairman of the Koyum-Kokwet self-help group.