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Kenyans Turn To Potatoes And Fish

Kenyans have changed their eating habits and consume more food other than the usual maize staple, driving up food security in the country, a senior Ministry of Agriculture official said.

Key staple foods such as maize and wheat have previously been hit hard by high prices following shortages after bad weather conditions or diseases.

“We have seen people panic when there is low maize supply…people hoard, prices go up… when in fact there are other foods that can supplement,” said Wilson Songa, agriculture secretary in the ministry.

He said Kenyans have shifted to Irish potatoes, which is the second most consumed food, and indigenous vegetables such as amaranth, bananas and fish.

Statistics from the ministry showed sluggish maize and wheat consumption in the last 11 months, which increased by one per cent and four per cent respectively compared with 2009.

Rice consumption increased 14 per cent in the same period. Potato production was at 1.6 million 100-kg bags, against a target of 2.2 million 100-kg bags.

Songa attributed the low Irish potato production to poor attention to the crop, which is overshadowed by maize.

He told Reuters formation of the National Potato Council two weeks ago, which will oversee drafting of the first potato policy in the country, will more than double production and increase profitability by next year.

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