Farmers worry over low price of carrots

Farmers washing carrots before packaging at Mau Narok in Nakuru County. They decry to exploitation by middle men who export the produce to Uganda. [Kipsang Joseph/Standard]
The county government has encouraged carrot farmers to join co-operative societies to get better prices for their produce.

This after farmers in Mau Narok complained that traders were buying carrots at low prices despite the high cost of production.

George Muthega, a farmer in Subati, said they were selling a 150-kg bag of carrots for Sh1,000 instead of Sh2,000.

The higher price, he added, would enable them to meet production costs and earn a profit.

Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Executive Immaculate Maina said the problem was the result of an inefficient supply chain for perishable farm produce.

The beneficiaries, Ms Maina noted, were mostly business people.

Farmers told The Standard middlemen were selling the carrots in neighbouring counties for Sh3,500 a bag.

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James Mucheno said those who failed to sell to the brokers were often unable to find other buyers hence leaving their carrots to rot in the farms.

“We have good weather patterns that improve the quality and quantity of our carrots, but we need better ways to deal with brokers who continue to exploit farmers,” said Mr Mucheno.

Other farmers claimed some unscrupulous brokers were demanding that they pack the carrots in 350-kg extended bags.

Dr Maina, however, said it was possible for the farmers to end the exploitation.

“There are two cooperative saccos in Mau Narok that support the production and sale of carrots, among other farm produce. We need the cooperatives to speak in the same voice to handle this issue,” she said.

The farmers also lamented the high cost of farm inputs, saying a recently enacted law had pushed up the price of pesticides by 16 per cent.

Jane Wangui said their costs would shoot up because they were expected to spray the carrots at least twice before harvesting.

Ms Wangui said they were not given subsidised fertilisers supplied by the national government, forcing them to buy the more expensive commodity from Agrovet shops.

A 50-kg bag of planting fertiliser is sold for between Sh2,800 and Sh3,500 depending on the brand.

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