This year’s growing season has left Irish potato farmers in Dedza reeling under heavy losses after they harvested poor quality potatoes which are said to be fetching low prices on the market.
The farmers are complaining that their Irish potato crop was devastated by late blight disease which drastically reduced the quality and quantity of their yield.
Speaking in an, one of the farmers, Fredrick Bizalle from Mpalale village in the area of Traditional Authority Kasumbu said he had realised K500,000 from selling Irish potatoes he harvested from a two hectare piece of land.
“I have been making huge profits since I started growing Irish potatoes in 1987. I usually make a maximum profit of K1.5 million after selling my Irish potatoes at the end of the growing season.
“I had plans of buying a minibus by using this year’s Irish potato earnings to top up on last year’s proceeds. However it will not work as I have realised less due to heavy losses I have suffered due to late blight disease which attacked my Irish potato crop,” Bizalle bemoaned.
Another farmer, Verumu Chizulu, said he had projected to realise K1 million from his Irish potato sales but he was disappointed after he only got K200,000.
Chizulu lamented that his hopes of building a house this year had been shattered.
Commenting on the matter, Research Technician for International Potato Centre (CIP) in Dedza, Thokozani Mvula concurred with the farmers saying the just ended growing season has been bad for Irish potato farming due to poor quality yields caused by the disease.
He said the situation was worsened by the fact that many farmers in the district use poor quality seeds for planting as they have no access to high quality seeds.
Dedza is one of the notable districts which supply many parts of the country with Irish potatoes owing to its cool temperatures and rich sandy loam soils which favour their growth.