Erratic weather sparks shortage of Irish potatoes

Rwanda is facing a shortage of Irish potatoes following erratic weather patterns that weighed down on the yield of the country’s staple food crop.
A farmer irrigates a plantation of Irish potatoes. The New Times / File.
A farmer irrigates a plantation of Irish potatoes. The New Times / File.

Rwanda is facing a shortage of Irish potatoes following erratic weather patterns that weighed down on the yield of the country’s staple food crop.

The country witnessed heavy rains in the last couple of months followed by a prolonged drought that led to the shortfall in the production of the food crop as well as higher prices on the retail market.

A mini survey conducted by Business Times shows that within the last two weeks, prices of Irish potatoes rose from Rwf190 per kilogramme to Rwf300 countrywide.

Sorted Irish potatoes (Kinigi type) have gone as high as Rwf350 per kilogramme in Kimironko and Nyabugogo markets.

“We have given up on Irish potatoes, they are unreasonably expensive. We have resorted to plantains,” noted Innocent Kabagambe, a consumer based Nyamata, Bugesera District. 

Irish growers in Musanze District, Northern Province, which is the main producer of the crop, say the shortage is partly blamed on the crop rotation programme.

“We have no Irish potatoes now. We had heavy rains and a prolonged drought both which destroyed our crops,” said Jean Baptist Ndikubwayo, a farmer in Musanze District.

Government officials are set to appeal to farmers not to squander produce during times of bumper harvest.

The Director of Planning at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), Peter Badege, said; “The rotation ensures sustainable and sufficient output but farmers should ensure proper storage during surplus harvests.”

The shortfall in Irish potato supplies could also trigger higher food prices in restaurants, particularly French Fries (Chips).

 

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