COST OF LIVING

Tomato prices on the rise as dry weather persists

In Summary

• Prices for one crate of tomatoes has increased from Sh4,000 to Sh10,000

Agriculture CAS attributes Shortage to drought.

Zacharial Mucheru sell tomatoes to the vendors in eldoret town. Photo/ Stanley Magut
Zacharial Mucheru sell tomatoes to the vendors in eldoret town. Photo/ Stanley Magut

Kenyans have for the last three months been forced to dig deeper in their pockets to enjoy a meal flavoured with tomatoes.

A visit by the Star to markets grocery markets revealed consumers have been forced to part with between Sh10 to Sh15 for one tomato up from Sh5 or Sh3 over two months ago.

“We now purchase a crate of tomatoes for between Sh10,000 to Sh14,000 up from Sh5,700 in December and January,” Miriam Kisia, a trader at Gachie said.

The traders attributed the increased cost to reduced supply in the market and transportation challenges.

According to Consumer Prices Indices from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, month on month price for tomatoes increased 7.44 per cent from Sh44.32 to Sh47.30 per kilo between January and February this year.

Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur attributed the shortage to the current drought experienced in the country.

“This will last another one month or so,” Tuimur said, referring to the rising prices of groceries. Kenyans have also witnessed a surge in the price of Kales(Sukumawiki), Cabbages, Carrots, and Potatoes.

They rose in retail price by between 1.3 per cent and 6.7 per cent between January and February this year.

According to the Kenya Farmers Association, shortage in vegetable supply is likely caused by unfavorable weather conditions.

“The weather has been very hot this season, and the traditional producing zones are not able to produce enough, the few able to produce must now sell exorbitantly due to increased demand,” KFA director Kipkorir Menjo said.

Last year in April, tonnes of tomatoes were rotting In farms on increased supply and lack of market.

This even as a Kilo retailed for Sh98.82, which is 16.63 per cent more costly than today's price,

Farmers in tomatoes growing zones such as Nyandarua and Moiben attributed the lack of a market to exploitation by middlemen who would pick the best tomatoes and leave the rest to rot.

Tuimur asked farmers especially in remote areas to form cooperatives to cut out middlemen and to get a higher bargaining power when selling their produce.

He said the government is in the process of reviving collapsed dams and build news to help solve water scarcity issues in areas highly affected by drought.