Lack of market leaves farmers counting losses despite bumper harvest

A watermelon trader displays her fruits along the Nakuru-Kabarnet highway. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Lack of direct link markets for watermelons has seen farmers in Marigat and Kiserian incur huge losses after recording a bumper harvest.

The produce is rotting away in farms as owners desperately wait for buyers. Levis Saning’o, a farmer, told The Standard that a group of 10 brokers, who control the watermelon trade in Marigat town, are their only link to buyers.

“It is a harvesting season but instead of smiling all the way to the bank, we are left counting losses. We don’t know what to do with the produce that we have harvested in plenty,” Mr Saning’o said.

The middlemen they depend on exploit them as they buy the produce at very low prices. According to the farmers, the brokers are buying eight tonnes of watermelons at between Sh40,000 and Sh50,000.

In previous seasons, the same would have fetched between Sh150,000 and Sh200,000. Another farmer, William Lekachuma, said they are forced to sell the melons at throwaway prices to ensure they do not rot away in farms.

They called on the national government to provide them with a ready market.