NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
A growing number of Kenyan families have cut the
use of tomatoes or abandoned the produce altogether as heavy
rains disrupt supply, tripling retail prices.
The commodity has
become scarce in most fresh produce markets and prices increased
sharply in the last two weeks pushing families to the edge.
A survey on Friday
shows vegetable dealers in the capital Nairobi and suburbs are
selling a big single tomato for up to 0.15 U.S. dollars, an
all-time high, from a low of 0.05 dollars in January.
On the other hand,
three small tomatoes are being sold at 0.20 dollars while a
medium-sized tomato is going at 0.10 dollars.
disruption, traders across Nairobi were selling three
medium-sized tomatoes for 0.20 dollars and households could buy
eight smaller ones for the same price.
A large box of
tomatoes, which most vegetable traders buy at wholesale price
before going to retail in residential areas, currently costs 75
dollars, up from 70 dollars in mid-April and 35 dollars in
become hard to come by because of the heavy rains. They are the
new gold,” Grace Mutuku, a vegetable seller in Komarock on the
east of Nairobi, said on Friday.
Mutuku, as many
other grocery store operators across the Nairobi, gets her fresh
produce supplies from Gikomba and Wakulima markets in the city.
literally fighting for tomatoes at the two markets and you have
to arrive as early as 4 a.m. to get them, that is, if you can
afford,” she said.
However, even as
traders fight for the commodity, she noted that the quality is
not good especially for those fruits grown in open fields.
Mutuku noted that
prices have increased in the last two weeks due to heavy rains
pounding most parts of the East African nation.
Most tomatoes sold
in Nairobi come from Loitoktok in Kajiado County, from Thika,
Machakos and even northern Kenya. All these areas are receiving
heavy rains currently, making it hard for the produce to reach
prices of the produce are steeper in Mombasa, Eldoret and Kisumu,
where a large box of tomatoes is being sold at between 75
dollars and 90 dollars.
“I have no choice
but to forego tomatoes especially when cooking foods like
vegetables. I am only using tomatoes in foods like meat to save
costs. If you buy a single tomato at 0.15 dollars, how many can
you afford?” posed Moses Sande, an officer messenger in Nairobi,
representing the plight of many low-income Kenyans.
Bernard Moina, an
agricultural officer in Western Kenya, noted that rains have
disrupted supply of tomatoes in three ways. First is that they
have made roads to farms impassable, making it difficult for the
produce to reach market.
Second is that
floods have destroyed the crop and others like melons on the
farm, especially in areas at the Coast and in the Rift Valley.
And lastly, the
rainy season brings a myriad of diseases that include tomato
blight and bacterial wilt which affect the crop.
“Rains are a big
source of many crop diseases and pests as the surface runoff
carry disease-causing agents from one place to another. For
instance, during the rainy season, bacterial wilt, blight and
root rot diseases that affect potatoes, capsicum and tomatoes,
among other crops, become prevalent,” he said.
He added that
farmers find it hard to eradicate such diseases because of the
rains, which wash off pesticides when they spray leading to loss
especially at the Coast and in Laikipia have lost acres of crop,
some that was about to be harvested due to floods,” he said.
Moina noted that
lucky ones who have harvested are losing their produce due to
poor roads as they have no cold chain facilities.
whose prices have increased due to the rains are onions, with a
kilo going for up to 2 dollars, peas and coriander.
inflation in April stood at 3.73 percent down from 4.18 percent,
but the food index during the month rose 1.59 percent due to
increases in selected items.