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Residents of Maralal in Samburu are experiencing an acute shortage of Irish potatoes.

A spot check by the Star at Maralal market showed prices have shot up. A bag of potatoes now costs Sh6,800, up from Sh3,500.

Hotel owners have been forced to hike food prices.

A plate of chips that was going for Sh50 is now being sold at Sh80. Some eateries which sold a plate of chips for Sh100 have increased the price to Sh150.

“We cannot maintain the same price for chips after a sharp increase in potato prices,” trader Joyce Kawira said.

Some traders blame the hike in prices on high fuel costs after MPs passed the eight per cent VAT on petroleum products.

“The cost of living is very high. Everyone is complaining about high fuel prices. We rely on supplies from out of the county because we don’t grow any crops in Samburu,” resident Janeffer Wanja said.

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Wanja told the Star on Saturday low production of potatoes pushed up the prices.

“Farmers said there was a prolonged rainy season which is not favourable for potatoes. This resulted in reduced yields,” she said.

Some potato traders have abandoned the business after incurring huge loses.

“We are unable to sell Irish potatoes because they have become too expensive,” Mama Charity, a trader at Maralal market said.

Consumers complained about the high prices.

“I used to buy a 1kg for Sh30, but yesterday I was told 2kg cost Sh250,” Christine Wangare said.

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