• The market is a first of its kind in Kenya, where farm produce comes direct to the market unlike traditional models where farm produce passes through many stages before getting to the consumer.
• The farmers in the market have been vetted to ensure they follow good agricultural practices in the production, harvesting, storage and transportation of their produce.
Consumers in the city and its environs can now get their fresh produce at farmgate prices following the opening of the Nairobi Farmers Market along Kiambu Road.
The market is aimed at ensuring Nairobians get farm produce without such produce going through the hands of many middlemen which ordinarily pushes the prices up.
Jeff Mundia, the market’s general manager said it has created a link between farmers and consumers, bypassing brokers who currently control the trade in many parts of the country.
He said besides fresh produce, there is a general store that offers an assortment of regular household goods on both retail and wholesale prices.
“This is expected to be popular with bargain hunters who currently travel to Eastleigh for wholesale shopping,” he said.
There is also a grains’ superstore specialising in pure Mwea pishori rice and many other cereals, prime cuts butcheries, which include a specialised pork shop, a fish centre, dairy and poultry centre, pharmacy, wines and spirits shop and many other facilities.
There is a restaurant for both sit-in and takeaway where meals, as well as snacks, are on offer.
“We have been open since mid-December on a trial run, and already the response from customers is just amazing. We are very encouraged,” Mundia said.
“Shoppers and other visitors have expressed satisfaction with the range and quality of products offered here, the freshness and the fair prices. Some of them even call asking for what they need, not believing they can just come and find the product,” he said.
Mundia said they started without too much publicity so that the farmers can first get used to restocking requirements and so on. Now they are good at it, and very soon all the shops will be open.
He said all the stalls were booked even before construction was complete.
The market is a first of its kind in Kenya, being a direct link, unlike traditional models where farm produce passes through many stages before getting to the consumer. This Mundia said leads to not only the exploitation of farmers by brokers but also the mishandling of produce which reaches the consumer in a poor state.
He added that all the farmers in the market have been vetted to ensure they follow good agricultural practices in the production, harvesting, storage and transportation of their produce.
“Also verified is the source of water to ensure that only good, clean water is used for irrigation. They are expected to comply with a common quality charter to ensure the safety of all the food sold in the market. Part of the objectives of this market is to avail safely handled food and therefore play our part in creating a healthy nation,” Mundia said.
Among the facilities is a pop-up market where different people, including non-farmers, can rent tables on a short-term basis to sell different products, mainly artisanal items made at home. A wide range of goods are allowed here, including food items, crafts, and many others.
“This is our way of allowing the talented Kenyans who lack an outlet for the wonderful things they produce. Now they can come and showcase them here and share their passion with others,” he said.
Also planned is a Consumer Experience Centre where manufacturers of household goods can showcase their products, with the opportunity to carry out cooking demos and tasting sessions. This is expected to be popular with manufacturers of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) seeking to introduce or popularise their products.
“Given the changing trends in shopping, we have developed an App that will allow customers from all over the city to shop online and enjoy convenient home deliveries. This way, even though the market is very pleasant to visit, we do not expect everyone who needs to buy from us to come all the way,” Mundia said.
The Nairobi Farmers Market comes at a time of growing concern about the safety of food sold in Kenyan markets.
He said whereas a many institutions have published the rules and regulations expected of every product destined for export, there is little supervision for products meant for local consumption.
“The post-harvest handling protocol is not enforced, and no hygiene standards are prescribed for what sells, for example, Marigiti in Nairobi or Kongowea in Mombasa,” Mundia said.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris