Violet Mutahi, a trader at the Kakamega retail market, is one of the traders from Western Kenya who cross over to Uganda who buy food crops to sell in Kenya. According to a report from the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade, Kenya’s imports from Uganda last year stood at $225.14 million. The bulk of the imports were dairy products, eggs, honey and edible products like corn, beans, millet, cassava, sorghum and sweet potatoes, which accounted for $64.35 million.
Traders prefer to bring in ginger, oranges, mangoes, vegetables and peppers from Uganda to sell in Kenya, rather than get them from Kenya where the profits are thin and the supply is not guaranteed.
Ms Mutahi used to get her stock of lemon and ginger from Kenya but stopped the deal because the Kenyan lemon variety - like is the case with many food products in the country - was expensive and had a short shelf life.
Stephen Obala, the chair of Busia-Kenya Business People Association, says foods consumed and sold on the border side of Kenya are grown in Uganda. But it is not only Kenya which flocks to Uganda for food. Statistics from World Integrated Trade Solutions show that India, Egypt, Thailand and Saudi Arabia are in the mix, too.