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Kenya move to arrest unscrupulous farmers

by Grace Kisembo

Eight vehicles carrying potatoes in extended bags were intercepted by police in Nyandarua county, in violation of the Crops (Irish Potatoes) Regulations 2019. The vehicles carrying over 1,000 bags of immature potatoes were stopped at roadblocks set up by police in various sub-counties.

A multi-agency team led by the Agriculture and Food Authority is spearheading the crackdown on farmers, traders, and transporters. Since the raid began on Thursday, police have intercepted almost 1,000 sacks of potatoes, according to Nyandarua police captain Zachary Kimani.

“The current status on potato regulations crackdown in Nyandarua is five lorries in Kinangop, two in Ndaragwa and one in Kipipiri,” said Kimani.

Ndaragwa sub-county OCPD Nancy Jerop said farmers had previously been sensitised on the Irish Potato Regulation 2019.

“They were warned against ferrying overloaded bags of potatoes. The regulation states that the required standard is 50kgs and we should not have an extended one,” said Jerop

Jerop said there was a multi-agency operation along the Nyeri-Nyahururu road which managed to net two lorries.

“One had 150 bags of immature potatoes and the other one had 160 bags. They are currently at Ndaragwa Police station. The drivers of the lorries will be taken to court. She said most of the bags weighed between 60-70 kgs,” she said.

In Meru, five traders were arrested and three vehicles carrying extended potatoes intercepted. AFA launched the crackdown early this month in Meru county. The value chain players risk tough penalties should they contravene the regulations. For example, dealers will be jailed for three years and fined Sh5 million if they violate the Crops (Irish Potatoes) Regulations 2019, warns AFA.

AFA director-general Kello Harsama said the crackdown will be extended to Narok, Nakuru, Mombasa and Nairobi counties. He said those who will be found in violation of the Cap 16 of the Crops Act on the 50kg packaging will be arrested and arraigned in court. The regulations were gazetted by Agriculture CS Peter Munya in May 2019.

Harsama said the regulation was to take effect from April this year but farmers and traders and are yet to comply, prompting the authority to start the crackdown.

“Key in the implementation process is to ensure packaging in the required standard of 50kg. The enforcement will be executed in the entire value chain from the farm to the markets,” Harsama said.

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