It is a new dawn for potato farmers in Nyandarua, and in other 14 potatoes growing counties, as the new packaging regulations takes effect across the country.
The Crops (Irish Potatoes) Regulations 2019, which were gazetted two months ago by the National Government’s Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, require that all potato packaging in the country be capped at 50 kilograms bringing to an end an era of farmers’ exploitation by brokers and middlemen.
“Today is a historic day for us; what we promised two years ago, and been lobbying with National Government agencies is now a reality. Never again will the farmer be at the mercy of the brokers, who bear no costs of production. From today, we move to full implementation and enforcement of the regulations,” Governor Francis Kimemia said at Ol’Kalou.
In order to enforce the new regulations, Governor Kimemia called on all players in the sector to ensure that proper sensitization, stakeholders’ engagement, speedy registration of farmers and value chain actors, and formation of joint intra and inter-counties implementation committees is done.
“I am wiling to engage all stakeholders, including Governors in Nairobi and Mombasa, where our potatoes find their market, to work with us in ensuring that the benefits of these legal protections are not rigged by unscrupulous individuals,” the County head added.
Pledging to ensure that the regulations are applied across the board, representatives of two other major potato producing counties – Nakuru and Elgeyo Marakwet, said their counties will work together in the joint committees to ensure every farmer finds protection in the law and benefits from their hard labor.
“In Elgeyo Marakwet, we have already made plans to ensure that these regulations are effected with immediate effect. We count on Nyandarua, as the leading potatoes producing county in the country, to set the pace and we will all follow,” Ann Kibosia, County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture Nyandarua, said .
Her sentiments were echoed by her colleague, Dr. Immaculate Maina from Nakuru, who promised that her county will jointly work with Nyandarua to ensure smooth and synchronized implementation is done: “As neighbors, ours will be joint success or failure; and thankfully, both counties’ leadership is at the forefront in calling for speedy implementation.”
The joint committees will be responsible for compliance and enforcement of the regulations, a position supported by Dr. James Karitu, County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Nyandarua, who also promised to quickly mobilize resources for sensitization and awareness across the County.
Achievement of the new regulations is a great milestone in fulfilment of Governor Kimemia’s campaign pledge of ending exploitation of potato farmers in the county.
“I will embark on immediate enforcement of the regulations. We will work with our county crop inspectors, enforcement officers and the National Police Service, who will partner with the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), to ensure full compliance. We cannot afford to let the farmer down,” the county head promised.
Further, the Governor promised to ensure that value addition of farm produce, including milk, is fast-tracked in the county to enable farmers realize maximum benefits.
“The cold storage facility, the processing plant and other input mechanisms including subsidized fertilizer and seeds, clean seeds multiplication taking place in Tumaini and the OljoroOrok tissue culture laboratories, soil testing, and our crops collection points will be coordinated to give value to the producers,” he added.
Also present during the function was the County Commissioner Mr. Boaz Cherutich who promised full cooperation of enforcement and security agencies. Others were County Executive Committee Members, Members of the County Assembly, representatives of sector organizations and stakeholders drawn from the county and beyond.