Traders will from April 2 be required to adhere to the 50 kilogramme per bag rule in packaging of Irish potatoes as the agriculture regulator moves to enforce the directive that is meant to safeguard farmers from exploitation by unscrupulous middlemen.

The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior and stakeholders in the value chain have set out an elaborate programme for implementation of the Irish Potato business regulations after many years of stalling due to litigation from brokers.

โ€œKey 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,โ€ said acting AFA Director-General Kello Harsama yesterday.

The enforcement will reverse the current scenario where potatoes are packaged in 110 kilogramme bags, subjecting farmers to losses.

Mr Harsama said inspectors have been recruited and duly briefed ahead of the crackdown across the potato growing counties and major markets.

The inspectors will work with the law enforcement agencies from the national and county governments. A sensitisation campaign will start next Tuesday across the major Irish potato growing counties, targeting farmers, traders and transporters.

The standardisation efforts pre-date the creation of AFA. The initial by-laws were adopted by cities, municipality and township authorities through Legal Notice No 113 of 2008, following a 2005 notice on the standardisation policy that had set a Sh2,000 as fine or a term not exceeding six months imprisonment for offenders.

The law required officers in charge of markets to block entry of the produce for sale in the extended bags.

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Following a 2014 directive by AFA meant to implement the long-delayed rule, 17 traders moved to court seeking to quash it, terming it unconstitutional since they were allegedly never consulted.

However, the court last month ruled in favour of growers, directing that the Packaging of potatoes will remain capped at 50 kilogramme at the farm-gate.

CREDIT: BusinessDaily

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