Similarly, potatoes have become much scarcer including in
regions that produce the tubers like Nyandarua, with a kilo of
the produce currently retailing at as high as 2 dollars from 1
dollar in January.
The high prices have brought good fortunes
to savvy farmers, especially those using irrigation and
conservation farming technologies.
"I cannot complain about the dry spell," Joseph Gatitu, a
tomato farmer in Machakos County, on the south of Nairobi, said
on phone. "Demand for my produce is high that I cannot satisfy
the market," he added.
The farmer grows the crop using drip irrigation system,
sourcing water from the nearby River Athi.
"I grew my tomatoes towards the end of November last year.
"At that time, there were some little rains but I later
started irrigating the crop in December and currently, I am on
my second harvest getting at least 80 kilos a week," said Gatitu,
who farms on half-acre.
He is selling a kilo of tomatoes to households in the nearby
Kitengela and Athi River towns for up to 0.70 dollars, the
highest price he has ever reaped in many years.
"Last year and the previous one, prices were not this better
because the dry spell was not that long.
"In farming, good timing is very important," he said.
As a practice, during the rainy season he grows vegetables
before switching to tomatoes when dry spell starts.
This enables him to avoid diseases associated with tomato
growing during the rainy season.
Many farmers in the east African nation are also taking up
conservation farming methods that involve minimal tilling of
land and mulching to conserve soil moisture, which is good for
crop growth especially during the dry season.
According to Hezekiah Korir of Egerton University,
conservation agriculture largely entails minimum soil
disturbance and soil moisture preservation.
The goal of the method, he notes, is to have a soil cover
that protects the surface reducing moisture loss and weed
This gives the crop good growing environment, especially
during the dry spell.
"Certainly, those farmers who grow short season crops using
irrigation or conservation farming methods are making a killing.
"I do consultancy at a farm in Ruiru and right now it is
among the few supplying onions in the town and Nairobi, and this
is because of conservation farming.
"Traders are flocking there daily," said Beatrice Macharia,
an agronomist with Agro-Point in Nairobi.
She noted that if the rains delay further, some farmers would
make big gains because commodity prices would rise.
KWS warning on increased incidence of human wildlife