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Greengram farmers hit by poor market prices

By Dickson Mwiti | February 27th 2020
By Dickson Mwiti | February 27th 2020

Farmers growing green grams in Tharaka Nithi County are calling on the county government to create a market for their produce to cushion them from exploitative brokers.

The farmers had a bumper harvest of the produce last season despite the fact that some of it were destroyed.

"We had good harvest even though some of our ndengu (green gram) was destroyed by the heavy rains," said Samuel Kirimi, a farmer from Nkondi area.

Buyers at the local markets are grading the produce in three categories; grade one which has no deformities, grade two that consists of those with few spots, and grade three, also referred to as 'mtumba' after being destroyed by rains.

The produce, which is the main cash crop in Tharaka region, is currently selling at as low as Sh10 per kilogramme from the usual Sh150 or Sh200.

Some farmers have been forced to take their produce back home because of poor prices in the market.

"I had taken about 200 kilograms of ndengu to the market to clear my son's school fees, but I have been forced to go back with them due to poor prices," said James Mutema.

Mr Mutema said there was no way he could sell a kilogram of the grain at sh10 whereas he had bought the seeds for planting at Sh100 per kilogramme.

And in a strange twist, some farmers are now threatening to feed their livestock with the produce rather than sell it at a throwaway price.

Tharaka Nithi County government had been promising market for the produce and even going to the extent of providing subsidised seeds.

"The county has always promised us of guaranteed markets, but we are yet to see them. We have played our part by doubling our efforts in farming, and it is their turn now," said Mutema.

Last year the county made an attempt to form associations to buy the produce from farmers for at least Sh65, but it ended up as scam, as some of those who were entrusted with the money swindled it.

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