The National Government in Kenya will reportedly build a multi-million dollar cold-room storage facility in Molo in the country to “cushion potato farmers against post-harvest losses and eliminate exploitation by brokers”.
The storage facility is designed to hold four million kilograms (4,000 metric tonnes) of potatoes, and will be equipped with an information centre for farmers, and a storage area which will prolong the shelf life of the stored potatoes for a period of four to six months, maintaining its quality.
Nakuru County Agriculture Chief Officer Kibet Maina said the project will be financed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries under the National Agricultural Rural Inclusive and Growth Project (NARIGP), It will enable farmers to store potatoes and hence improve their “bargaining power” for better prices.
Addressing a potato value chain consultative meeting that brought together farmers, marketers and agriculture officials at the County’s headquarters, Maina said that potato farmers in the county lose up to 40 percent of their total produce during post-harvest losses. It is estimated that the county produces over 400,000 bags of potatoes each season.
“Our analysis indicates that potato prices increase three times in two to three months after harvesting. With the facility in place, farmers will be able to wait for the right time when prices stabilize before disposing of their produce,” he said.
Nakuru is among the largest producers of the crop in Kenya with the County accounting for 18.9 percent of national production.
Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock County Executive Committee Member Dr Immaculate Maina said that shortage of certified potato seed had stagnated production of the crop at seven tons per hectare against a potential of 40 tons.
She stated that the unit is collaborating with the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), the National Potato Council of Kenya (NPCK) and Egerton University in seeking to unlock the over Ksh15 billion potential of potato farming in the devolved unit.