The price of potatoes (white or Irish potato) shot up by as much as K30 per 10kg pocket, after a decline in production due to high input cost. In places like Copperbelt, the situation is compounded by crop shortages.
A quick survey of fresh produce outlets, including chain stores in Lusaka and other areas, shows the price of a 10kg pocket at between K70 and K80. The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) attributed the price increase to a dip in production arising from the high cost of seed and other inputs. This led to farmers avoiding producing Irish potatoes.
ZNFU, in its weekly report, cited the halt of production by a major producer in Mpongwe, Copperbelt as one of the reasons the area was hit by shortages. The producer started production two years ago but didn’t farm the crop this season.
According to ZNFU the Mpongwe producer of potatoes also battled with a poor road network, which contributed to increased production cost. Zambia’s potato consumption is low. Annual production is estimated at 31 000 tons cultivated on 1 200 hectares.
Consumers say price increase for potatoes – an alternative staple food for urban households – increased the cost of living in the last few months. “Mealie-meal is already expensive, and now we have a situation where one has to pay has much as K80 for potatoes,” complained Diane Mwale of Lusaka’s Northmead.