By Ben Leshau
Despite the county implementing the 2019 Potato Regulation and Packaging Act, potato farmers in Narok have complained over the return of the extended bags attributing it to lack of enforcement of the laws.
The regulation that recommends potatoes to be packaged strictly in 50 kilogramme bags, was aimed at cushioning the farmers from exploitation by unscrupulous traders.
The middlemen have been demanding packaging be done in an extended 110Kg bag.
Led by Potato Chairman in Melili Ward in Narok North, Mr Stephen Nkosira, the farmers lamented that they are being exploited by the traders despite the law being in place.
“Our farmers depend on traders from Wakulima, Marikiti markets and others in Nairobi. Most small scale farmers cannot be able to transport the produce to the market by themselves making them vulnerable to ruthless brokers,” said Mr Nkosira.
He revealed that the brokers have developed some coded languages they use in packaging with varied prices thus exploiting the farmers.
A kilo of potatoes he said ideally should range between Sh35 to Sh40. The sentiments were also echoed by John Saoli, one of the potato farmers in Narok East sub-county who said they have been fighting for proper potato packaging for over 18 years albeit unsuccessfully.
“Some traders have been taking advantage of the lack of packaging regulation to exploit our farmers,” said Governor Samuel Tunai during the launch of the regulation.
Tunai vowed to ensure that the regulation is fully implemented saying the county askaris will work with the county security in enforcing the new law.
Narok is among the 13 potato-growing counties in the country. Other counties producing the commodity include:Bomet,Nyandarua,TaitaTaveta, Nyeri, Kiambu, Nakuru,Elgeyo/Marakwet,Trans nzoia,Bungoma and West Pokot.