Irish potato prices double in the South Rift as shortages hit

Traders selling potatoes in Nyeri. The cost of Irish Potatoes has doubled in Bomet and Kericho.

The prices of Irish potatoes have doubled in the South Rift region because of demand and supply factors in the market.

A 50kg bag of potatoes retails for Sh3,500, up from Sh1,500 a month ago.

That reflects a rise in prices per 50kg unit of Sh2,000, with dealers expressing fears that a supply shortage may further push up the prices as year-end festivities start.

A market survey revealed that demand is high for fresh farm produce, while production and supply have declined.

"We have experienced a rise in demand but a shortage in supplies in the past one month, and by the look of things, prices are set to rise in the next few days" said Mr David Kibet, a dealer at Kapkwen trading centre.

High costs of farm inputs, especially fertilisers and pesticides, have mainly been attributed to the prevailing low production in Bomet and Narok counties.

But production is expected to rise early next year due after the government made it easier for farmers to get subsidised fertilisers.

The government has been providing fertilisers to farmers in the last one month for Sh3,500 per 50kg bag at National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots.

Farmers previously purchased fertilisers from various outlets for between Sh6,500 and Sh7,000.

Shortly after being sworn in on September 13, President William Ruto directed that fertiliser subsidies be provided by the state department of agriculture so as to cushion farmers.

Dr Ruto has said the government will seek to further lower the prices of fertilisers to an average of Sh2,500 per 50kg bag.

The measures were aimed at increasing production and enabling farmers to make profits from their investments.

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