Hope for fresh produce sellers as hotels reopen
By Everlyne Kwamboka | May 2nd 2020
Traders at the Wakulima Market in Nairobi are hopeful that the reopening of restaurants will lead to more sales of fresh produce.
The sellers who had reduced their stock to almost a quarter due to the stay-at-home guidelines on Covid-19 issued by the government in March were this week working on increasing their supplies without incurring losses.
A survey by Weekend Business on Wednesday established that some of the traders who have been selling mangoes in Nairobi have been bringing stock of 3,000 pieces of the fruit instead of a full truck as hotels and restaurants had closed due to the pandemic.
“Traders have been operating at a big loss and one cannot afford to bring mangoes from Tana River County alone. They are now pooling in groups of four to six to share the Sh55,000 transport cost per truck,” said Wakulima Market Traders Association Chairman Cyrus Kiguta.
He said it has been taking a trader five days to clear stock of 3,000 mangoes, but that now with the reopening of some restaurants, business will improve with time.
However, the vast space that used to be occupied by trucks bringing in mangoes from the coastal area, and onions and oranges from Tanzania were clear of any vehicles; instead, hawkers now retail fresh vegetables and fruits in the area.
Mr Kiguta said even with the reopening restaurants, the number of trucks bringing goods to the market had not improved.
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“The number of trucks coming to the market between 3am and 5am reduced from March, but we hope things will improve,” he said.
A spot check at the market showed white onions trading at Sh120 per kilogramme, up from Sh100, and fresh green grams at Sh150 from Sh100 before the shutdown.
Traders attributed the price increase to the on-going heavy rains and Covid-19 movement restrictions that have led to most of them not buying goods from Tanzania.
And at the Namanga border post, some of the traders said stringent measures by the government to contain the spread of coronavirus had seen some of the transporters suspend operations across the border.
For traders importing pineapples from Uganda, the supplies received before the country set stringent entry rules for truck drivers are now being sold at throw-away prices.
A pineapple that used to sell at Sh100 was retailing at Sh60 on Wednesday.
“The shelf life of pineapples is too short and I have to sell them at a low price so as not to incur a huge loss,” said Lucy Ngendo, a trader.
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