At first, it was the Chinese fish that flooded the market in Western Kenya. Now it is fruits from Uganda and Tanzania.
From Siaya to Kisumu through Homa Bay to Migori, more than 60 per cent of pineapples, bananas and watermelon sold in the streets and markets across Nyanza are from Uganda. This has resulted in a glut and reduced prices, causing an outcry from local traders and farmers.
Uganda is bringing loads of bananas and pineapples to Kisumu through the Busia border while Tanzania is trucking in tonnes of watermelon into Migori and neighbouring towns through the Isebania border.
Worst affected are pineapple and watermelon farmers from Rangwe and Kabondo in Homa Bay County, who have been forced to reduce the prices of a pineapple from Sh100 to Sh50 or Sh40 to enable them survive the competition from Uganda.
A spot check in Kisumu showed that fruits from Uganda were being sold all over town, especially at the Jubilee market, Bus Park and Kondele.
At the Jubilee market, a bunch of bananas, which previously sold for Sh600, now goes for Sh300 while a six-kilogramme watermelon goes for Sh300, down from Sh450. A three-kilogramme pineapple goes for Sh50, down from Sh150.
Lorry loads of fruits and vegetables from Uganda arrive at the markets at 4am every day. They are quickly offloaded and distributed across the town’s estates and supermarkets.
Street vendors have taken advantage of the fruits in the markets, with many slicing pineapples and watermelons and sell each slice at Sh10.
Jane Achieng’ has been selling fruits at Jubilee market for the last five years but says this time, her business is on its knees.
She said even with reduced prices, the number of customers has gone down as many people have resorted to selling fruits.
Paulina Adhiambo, another trader, says cheaper cabbages and tomatoes from Uganda have flooded local markets.
She says cabbage prices have reduced from Sh100 per piece previously to Sh50 currently.
“I wish there was a way to control the produce from Uganda; we are suffering,” said Ms Adhiambo.
The Standard also learnt that Ugandan traders are exporting eggs worth millions of shillings into Kisumu after an earlier ban was lifted.
With fish from China, eggs, vegetables and fruits from Uganda and Tanzania, Nyanza is feeding on imported food.
According to Homa Bay County Executive Member for Trade David Okeyo, local markets have been flooded with fruits from outside the country.
He cited Olare market, known for its pineapples. He said Olare has been hit by oversupply of pineapples and watermelons from Uganda.
“It is unfortunate that traders in this market are farmers who are now competing to have a share of the customers,” said Mr Okeyo.
He said the county government was finalising plans to put up a Sh100 million multi-fruit processing factory to help in value addition.
“We do not have a budget allocation for the factory this financial year but we will allocate some funds in the next budget so that we can help farmers process their fruits,” said Okeyo.
He said they were encouraging farmers to join cooperatives to get an upper hand in the market.
Okeyo said they were also planning to establish maize milling and livestock feed factories to boost farming and trade in the county.
“Most farmers here produce fruits and vegetables for the local market but with imports from Uganda, many farmers retract their efforts,” he explained.
But Kabondo Kasipul MP Eve Obara blamed farmers for not coming up with techniques for production sustainability.
Ms Obara said after massive harvests, farmers tend to relax, leaving a void in the market, which attracts imports from Uganda.
She said it was not wise for farmers to plant at the same time and harvest at the same time, urging them to use irrigation to sustain production throughout the year.