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Brokers profiteer from carrot glut in Mau, Narok

NEWS
By Mercy Kahenda | October 30th 2018
A farmer prepares carrot for the market. Prices have plummeted following a glut. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A carrot glut has driven prices to an all-time low.

Farmers have told The Standard brokers are buying a 110-kilogramme sack for as little as Sh300.

The farmers are now accusing brokers of exploitation and price-fixing, saying they have been selling the carrots across the border in Uganda for Sh3,000.

“We have good harvest, but nowhere to sell our carrots. We are selling them at throw-away prices to middlemen," said James Mucheno, a farmer at Maasai village.

According Mucheno, the county is doing little to protect farmers from blatant exploitation. 

Encouraging Kenyans

“The Government is encouraging Kenyans to venture into farming to attain food security. How are we supposed to attain this when we have nowhere to sell our produce?” said the farmer.

He said the brokers dictate packaging and prices of the crop, and that farmers who do not dance to their tune end up stuck with sacks of carrots.

Farmers packaging carrots at Mau Narok. [Kipsang Joseph,Standard]

The farmers now fear that they might not recoup money spent on their farms.

"I spent Sh6,000 to purchase carrot seeds in local outlets for an acre. I will need to sell tat least 10 sacks to recover this," said Mucheno.

Samuel Chege, another farmer, said poor roads and rough terrain was aggravating the situation.

"The roads from Mau-Narok are bad," said Chege.

Jane Wangui, a farmer from GK area, said prices of farm inputs rose after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Tax Law Amendment Act, further eating into their profits.

This, and the fact that unlike maize farmers, carrot farmers have not been receiving subsidised fertilisers.

A 50kg sack of fertiliser goes for between Sh2,800 and Sh3,200, while the prices of pesticides have gone up by 16 per cent.

“Why is the government only giving fertiliser to maize farmers? We have been applying to get a share but no one is telling us why we cannot get it,” said Wangui.

“Growing carrots is expensive. It becomes worse when brokers begin exploiting us,” she said.

Immaculate Maina, the county executive for agriculture, livestock and fisheries,  said the department had been encouraging farmers to form cooperatives as a way of curbing exploitation from brokers.

Dr Maina said the county was also in talks with Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in Gilgil to purchase produce from the farmers.

Maina called on the Government to come up with a national policy on weights and measures for all agricultural produce.

“It has been a challenge controlling packaging of various farm produce. This can only happen if we have a national policy on weights and measures for all agricultural produce,” she said.

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