Tomato prices in Kenya have more than doubled in the last two months, with some now as expensive as an apple. Researcher says prices are always high at this time when farmers are approaching planting season.
A tomato vendor in Utawala-Githunguri yesterday said the price of a crate of tomatoes has gone up from between Sh1,500-Sh1, 800 in December to the current price of Sh3, 500. A spot check by the Star showed three medium size tomatoes were selling at Sh50 from Sh10 per one tomato in December. In some markets in the city, three tomatoes were going for Sh100.
Timothy Njagi, a senior research fellow with Tegemeo Institute, said the prices are always high at this time when farmers are approaching planting season. Njagi said the challenge with the horticulture industry is that it lacks coordination.
Njagi attributed the high price of tomatoes to the excessive short rains being experienced in the country which led to an increase in tomato wilt disease, hence low production.
Stephen Muchiri, the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation CEO, said as long as it is raining, the cost of production will keep increasing. Muchiri spoke during the launch of the Farmer Organisations for Africans, Caribbeans and Pacific countries held at a Nairobi hotel. This, he explained, is because it will be costly to manage crops due to fungal diseases and poor road infrastructure that will lead to post-harvest losses.
“Farmers are grappling with the double challenge of high cost of production and the excess rain that is making it difficult to plant due to water logging in the farms. In the end they are not able to manage the issues of demand verses supply and the burden is being pushed to the consumer,” Muchiri said.
EAFF chairman Philip Kiriro said the cost of production for tomatoes is high and most farmers are unable to manage the crop. “Most farmers gave up mid-way due to high cost of production, so we had few farmers growing the crop hence the high price of the produce.”
[ Sh100 = €0,91 ]