• Even brokers who used to buy the fruits at low prices now prefer cheap imports from neighboring countries.
Pineapple farmers in Gatundu South and Gatundu North are counting huge losses after buyers rejected their fruits and chose cheap imports and fruits stolen from large firms.
Farmers who spoke to journalists at their farms on Monday said even brokers who used to buy the fruits from them at low prices now buy cheap imports from neighbouring countries.
“Our fruits are rotting in the farms leaving us counting huge losses. Our potential markets have been flooded with cheap imports and even brokers who were buying the fruits at throwaway prices are no longer there. We are suffering from unfair competition,” farmer Joseph Kiruki said.
“We have been left with no markets at all. We’ve resorted to selling the fruits by the roadside for Sh30 and Sh50. This is hurting our farming, our only source of income,” Kiruki said.
Farmer Mwala Mara said that the government should regulate importation of farm produce such as pineapples that are locally produced to enable local farmers reap proceeds from their farming.
“The unregulated importation of cheap fruits is giving us unfair competition in the markets." Mara said.
"Again it has created a loophole for unscrupulous traders who are buying the fruits at throwaway prices at the expense of farmers’ hard work. The government should protect us by creating proper policies and regulations that will ensure fairness in the markets,” Mara said.
The farmers also called on the government through the Trade and Agriculture ministries to find better markets for the fruits that will motivate the farmers to grow the pineapples on a large scale with an assurance of high returns.
“We want our leaders to come up with ways of value-addition to our pineapples so they can fetch high prices at local or international markets. This is the surest way of empowering farmers, beating unemployment and poverty in the region,” farmer James Kavaiku said.
The farmers also called for establishment of pineapple processing plants in the area for value addition saying that the plants will enable them to get more yields in their farming.
“Most leaders have been giving us false promises during electioneering period that they will push for establishment of the processing plants only to vanish after being elected. We want our leaders to take this matter seriously and fast track establishment of the factories so that we can farm more and benefit from our farming,” farmer Susan Mugure said.
They said that should the ills bedeviling the pineapple growing persist, they will consider embarking on farming other crops like tea, macadamia or avocados. despite their markets alsofacing headwinds.
(Edited by V. Graham)