In Uganda, Irish potatoes are mainly grown in districts of Kabale, Kisoro, Nebbi, Kaseses, Mbale, Kapchorwa, Masaka and Singo. Thisis because of the low temperatures in those areas. Irish potatoes grow well in areas that receive regular rainfall and whose temperatures range between 10 and 23centegrades.
Irish potatoes are always ready for harvest after 3 to 4 months after initial planting, but one of the ways you can tell that they ready for harvest is when the vines begin to dry and die out.
The crop is an essential staple food for common people and is also used for making chips and crisps.
Although Uganda grows Irish potatoes, traders still import the crop from Kenya because it is cheaper than our own Irish grown in the country.
Why Irish potato prices are continuously increasing
Jacinta Majwenga, 55, who sells Irish potatoes in Kansanga, a Kampala suburb, says she has never experienced high Irish potato prices as is the case now that most people have left the business and resorted to other ideas on Kampala streets.
“I had a retail shop but selling a few potatoes but later got interested of in joining the business when my late husband started bringing it in large quantities which made more money than my retail shop,” Majwenga says.
Marius Kabakyenga, the managing director of Yummy Chicken and Chips, in Makyindye , Kampala, says he has stopped selling chips because his business had collapsed due to the high price of Irish potatoes.
“Chips can kill even capital for chicken and if you are not careful with the prices of Irish potatoes these days, you can end up running out of the business with big debts and losses,” Kabakyenga says.
Current Irish potato prices
Kenya Irish potatoes: small sack – sh200,000. Before, it used to cost sh95,000.
Kisoro Irish: Big sack goes for sh305,000. Before it was at sh235,000.
Majwenga says the continuous increase in prices is making people run out of the business that was bringing food to the table for most low-income earners such as the women who sell chips.
Why increase of prices
“Singo and Masaka are just planting the crop, leaving space for Kenya and Kisoro to create their own price since they have no competitor in market,” Majwenga says.
She adds that this is the main reason for price increase and it will stabilise in December.
Increase in fuel prices is another cause for price increase.
Kabale for many years was the leading supplier of Irish potatoes to Kampala’s St Balikuddembe market has now been overtaken by new sources like Kisoro, Masaka and Mbale.