Mkulima today the potato industry faces several challenges just like other agribusiness sectors.Potato farmers bank on Kshs 100 million storage facility
And today we have great news, for all farmers who are in potato farming or wish to start out in farming the crop.
The farmers in Meru have a reason to smile.
This is as a result of the planned construction of a Kshs 100 million potato storage facility.
During the farming period, many farmers suffer heavy losses, which can be about 30% as a result of poor storage.
The storage facility is to be constructed at the beautiful Buuri West and aims to cushion, the farmers from post-harvest losses.
This project is under the wings of MSEA (Micro and Small Enterprises Authority)
It is expected to have a capacity of 600 tonnes of potatoes and the ability to store for an estimated period of 8 months.
At Meru County, the trade chief administrative secretary (CAS) Mr. Lawrence Karanja said potato farmers will be able to increase their earnings significantly.
As per the County of Meru Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) 2018-2022.
The county produces 196,434 tonnes of potatoes valued at over kshs 5 billion annually.
If put in perspective thee farmers have been losing kshs 1.8 million daily as a result of lack of storage and poor storage.
Mr. Karanja added the county government has put in place kshs 300 million for the construction of cold storage facilities across the counties of Meru, Nyandarua, and Kisii.
For the cold storage facilities, they have developed in line with the BIG 4 agenda a vision by president Kenyatta and managed by StateHouse and Harambee house.
We expect the facility to be ready by the end of the year.
This will reduce post-harvest losses, which is a major challenge in potato farming and in agriculture in the country.
For the successful operation of the project, we will ensure farmers are organized into groups so as to utilize the facility Mr. Karanja said.
The Meru Potato Cooperative Union chairman Mr. Chris Marete said the facility would significantly improve farmers’ earnings as they will be able to wait for good prices from the market.
Currently, we as farmers are at the mercy of traders or middlemen because we have nowhere to take the product if we do not sell to them.
This is why prices jump from kshs 600 – 3,080 per 50-kilogram sack based on demand Mr. Marete said.
He said two more cold storage facilities with an added capacity of 100 tonnes will also be built through the Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP).
MSEA chief executive officer Mr. Henry Rithaa said the storage facility will help stabilize prices throughout the year
Mr. Karanja said the government would facilitate the establishment of a potato processing facility while more funds will be set aside for a banana cold storage facility to be built at South Imenti.
He called on farmers to venture into value addition saying the government has allocated kshs 680 million through the MSEA machinery to support small and medium enterprises.
Mr. Rithaa said the kshs 680 million micro and small enterprises fund would be ready in two months once its regulations are gazetted.
Once the facility is ready, potato farmers will be linked to the commodities exchange and have access to cheap credit from MSEA through the warehouse receipting system.
We will also finance farmers through local cooperatives to increase production and venture into cottage processing Mr. Rithaa said.
Meru county government through the governor Mr. Kiraitu Murungi welcomed the development as potato farmers bank on Kshs 100 million storage facility saying his administration had already helped in the formation of several potato societies which bring together more than 15,000 farmers.
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