Vegetable shortage hits North Rift markets

ELDORET, KENYA: A shortage of fruits and vegetables has hit most markets in the North Rift region with the semi-arid West Pokot County most affected as a prolonged dry spell deprives growth of crops in the region.

Demand for commodities has soared even as traders source for them from far flung areas including the neighboring counties where a number of farmers have cultivated the crops under irrigation from meandering rivers.

A bag of kales which ordinarily retail at Sh 600 now goes for between Sh1,800 and Sh 2,200 while a medium sized cabbage which was Sh 30 now retails at prices ranging between Sh 40 or Sh 60 (depending on weight).

While an average family would supplement meat whose price remains constant at Sh 400 a kilogram with a few leaves of kales, those who cannot afford the high prices have resorted to use of white ants as a delicacy.

A trader at Makutano market in Kapenguria, Mary Lokita, said the prices were high since only a handful farmers grew kales, cabbages and onions in November owing to high cost of inputs such as seeds and fertilizers.

"The demand for vegetables is so high this season and a bag of kales takes me less than 30 minutes to sell," she said.

She adds that it is expensive to hire a pick up van to the remote areas where vegetables are grown due to high fuel prices and pathetic roads hence the final consumer has to shoulder the burden.

In other markets, the vegetables are measured on weighing scale and prices charged depending with the weight.

Tomatoes are not exceptional with small scale horticultural farmers who have green houses in their farms cashing in from vegetable vendors who are constantly out in search of the commodity.

A crate of tomatoes is being sold at over Sh8, 000 up from between Sh2, 000 and Sh3, 000 with the money maker variety being scarce as compared to the kaljei type.

In Cherangany area of Trans Nzoia County where most of the tomatoes are sourced, a crate goes for between Sh5, 000 and Sh5,800 even as traders from urban areas scramble for them.

Related Topics

West Pokot Kales