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Meru hit by onion shortage, causing spike in prices

Onion traders in Gakoromone market in Meru County are grappling with high prices of onions, which have been triggered by the shortage of the commodity from farms.

Fridah Gatwiri, an onion trader at the market, said at the moment there had been a worrying reduction in the quantities of onions in farms, especially in Isiolo County, where they buy the product, as compared to the last few months.

She added that this shortage has been the major cause of the price hike of the onions in the market.

She further said that there is less harvest compared to the size of the farms and other seasons.

“Previously, we would buy onions at around Sh35 per kilogram from the farmers and sell them at Sh45, while the small onion dealers who would buy from our customers would sell the commodity at about Sh55 per kilogram,” she informed.

She added that in recent months, they have been purchasing the exact quantities of the commodity at around Sh60 from the farms and selling them at about Sh70 per kilo.

Consequently, the small onion dealers are selling it at Sh80 per kilo.

George Muthee, another onion trader, attributed the shortage to heavy rains that persisted even after the maturity of the commodity.

“It rained heavily when onions had already reached maturity while in the plantation, leading to rotting,” he said.

Mr. Muthee noted that it is challenging to purchase soaked onions because they go bad very fast if not dried.

Everlyn Kairuthi, another trader, said, “It has not always been profitable selling the onions at the high prices because of the expenses incurred.”

She explained that there are also a lot of costs incurred, especially in the transportation of the commodity, purchasing the packaging materials, and paying brokers.

Miss Kairuthi said that consumers of the commodity are irritated at the drastic hike in prices and sometimes fail to buy the onions, forcing them to lower prices for them to buy, leading to a massive loss.

Agnes Nkirote, a consumer of the commodity, complained: “We forcefully have to ditch the onion from our recipes since we can no longer afford the commodity with the high cost of living bedeviling the country.”

By Dickson Mwiti and Dorcas Kawira

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