NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenyan traders are feeling the pinch of rising
commodity prices as consumers keep off a number of basic goods,
which are slowly becoming a luxury.
From food to
clothes to fuel, prices of most basic items have hit an all-time
high pushing thousands of families to the edge.
The cost of maize flour, for instance, stands at a record
high of 1.5 U.S. dollars for a 2kg pack, the highest ever in the
history of the produce in the country.
On the other hand, a 500ml packet of milk is currently going
for 0.6 dollars, a 6 percent rise from a similar period last
The price of kerosene has risen by 21 percent to 0.68 dollars
a litre, coriander 60 percent to 1.1 dollars for a kilo, sugar
17 percent, potatoes 30 percent, dry maize 30 percent and
spinach 30 percent, among others.
The cost of housing has also not spared squeezed families as
those living in single rooms are currently paying an average of
40 dollars, a 3 percent rise from last year, while those in
three-bedroom houses are paying 350 dollars, a rise of 4
percent, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
The surge in commodity prices has pushed the East African
nation’s biggest economy inflation to 10.3 percent, a five-year
high, as consumers’ purchasing power gets eroded.
Traders are thus feeling the pinch as consumers adopt
survival tactics in the process of keeping off most commodities.
Among the worst affected commodity is milk, whose high cost has
made it a luxury among many Kenyan farmers.
"I stopped buying milk from my supply in crates because
people are not buying.
"When prices were about 0.50 dollars, I would sell at least
15 packets a day but right now selling even five seems a
miracle," Agnes Oyoo, a shopkeeper in Komarock on the east of
Nairobi said Wednesday.
Her shop is located in a middle-class estate where a good
number of people are home-owners.
That they are not buying shows how consumers are suffering.
"Nearly everything is not moving, from milk to airtime to
soap and cooking fat.
"Business is at a standstill that I am afraid of bringing in
new stock," she said.
Feeling an equal pinch are grocery sellers who have recorded
massive decline in sales of vegetables, tomatoes and onions.
At his shop in Nairobi, Moses Mutuku is selling a big tomato
at 0.10 dollars, the price having doubled in two months.
On the other hand, three tiny tomatoes, which have become
consumer favourites, are going for the same price. In December
last year, the trader would sell such six tomatoes at 0.10
"Right now I mainly buy the small tomatoes because that is
what is selling a little faster.
"Life is becoming harder for us because I barely make good
money to run my business and sustain my family," says Mutuku,
noting his sales have plummeted to 5 dollars a day from more
than double the amount.
Analysts noted that the current inflation is due to several
things: first is lack of rains which affected food production,
rising oil prices and elections.
"Poor weather has really been a major problem, affecting food
production and thus grocery and grain prices because the country
now has to rely on imports.
"This is something that we cannot control thus consumers and
traders must prepare for worse times as the weather man has said
the rains would still not be adequate," said Henry Wandera, an
economics lecturer in Nairobi.
He noted that a surge in prices of goods normally reduces
consumer spending power, making many shun several goods as they
struggle to survive.
"This is what is happening currently.
"While the government has taken measures that include
removing tax on things like maize, these many not help much
especially if rains fail and oil prices continue to surge." he