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Relief for consumers as price of Irish potatoes falls by half

Consumption of potatoes has been rising as preference for maize declines. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Consumption of potatoes has been rising as preference for maize declines. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The price of Irish potatoes has more than halved with a 100kg bag retailing at Sh1,800 as the harvesting season starts.

A bag sold at Sh3,800 in March as the country grappled with a biting drought.

“There has been an increase of the produce from farms; this has helped cut the price,” says a report from the Agriculture ministry.

The price fall comes as relief to consumers who are now buying a two kilogramme tin at Sh50, down from about Sh200.

The high cost forced many households to remove potatoes from their menu while hotels reduced portions or raised prices per plate.

Recent data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates that the price of potatoes declined from Sh72 per kilogramme in June to Sh56 last month.

Inflation dropped to 7.47 per cent last month on falling food prices, moving within the government’s preferred range of 2.5 to 7.5 per cent. Food takes up the largest share (36 per cent) of the basket of goods used to calculate inflation, making it the main driver of the cost of living.

It is followed by utilities such as rent, water, electricity, gas and fuel at 18 per cent.

Irish potatoes are the second most important staple on Kenyan tables after maize.

Consumption of potatoes has been rising as preference for maize declines, according Tegemeo, the Egerton University-based research institute. Tegemeo says that per capita maize consumption in Kenya has dropped from 83kg in 2009 to between 55kg and 78kg today.

Rice, bananas and potatoes are gaining popularity as alternative staple foods among both rural and urban households.

The proportion of households consuming these foods rose from 54, 29 and 41 per cent to 61, 34 and 44 per cent respectively between 2013 and 2015. Consumption of wheat products has also gained currency after the price of maize flour shot up.

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