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Grocery suppliers worry as schools remain closed

Contracted agricultural producers that relied on learning institutions for income are running into huge losses due to partial reopening.

Some of the suppliers of food stuffs are yet to be paid for their services while others have their produce go to waste due to lack of market.

A section of grocery producers from the North Rift told The Standard in Eldoret that they have been adversely affected since the schools they relied on for suppliers cannot make orders as planned in their contracts earlier in the year prior to closure due to Covid-19 pandemic.

“For the last four years, I have been steadily supplying vegetables, tomatoes and onions to two schools and I have dedicated an acre of land for its production. Closure of schools has adversely affected my enterprise,” said Patrick Shiyuka, a grocery producer from Moiben, Uasin Gishu County.

At the beginning of this year, Shiyuka said, he had planned to produce the grocery for the schools for term one, two and three but the abrupt closure of schools in March interrupted his plans.

“I had dedicated resources for inputs and part of the grocery I have produced lacked probable market largely due to closure of schools and partly the movement restrictions due to Covid-19 containment measures,” said Shiyuka who added that he was yet to be paid Sh98,000 for his supplies made prior to March.   

He said the partial reopening that has seen Grade Four, Class eight and Form Four candidates could not enable him meet quantities that are usually supplied to schools thus leading to wastage of surplus produce.

“Tomatoes and vegetables are highly perishable. Those that I had planned to produce for schools is going to waste due to poor market. I met one of the school heads asking for clearance for outstanding debts but he said the school Board of Management (BOM) was yet to deliberate on clearance of outstanding debts,” he said.

Mr Jackson Kwambai, also a grocery farmer said he supplies produce to traders contracted by schools.

“I produce in large scale and for the past eight months, it has been a great loss due to a low demand since schools are still closed. Covid-19 pandemic has really interrupted our enterprise due to closure of schools and movement restrictions,” said Kwambai, a farmer in Uasin Gishu.

The farmer said he often rely on short season food crops but has since suspended his operations due to poor market.

Thomas Rono, another producer claimed that institutions are currently paying cash but for minimal supplies of grocery for the students currently in school.

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