Vegetable traders in Murang’a have decried soaring tomato prices in the recent past owing to heavy rains being experienced in the region.
The business people observed that prices of the produce had increased by almost 100 per cent saying a lot of crops were destroyed during the ongoing rains.
They claimed that the few tomatoes they get are being sold at high prices which is transferred to consumers.
One of the traders at Mukuyu market in the outskirts of Murang’a town Ms Aisha Wanjiru stated that a crate of tomatoes which used to sell at Sh 4,000 is currently going for more than Sh 7,500.
“Residents are even opting not to buy tomatoes due to high prices. Sometimes we find ourselves throwing away our merchandise despite buying it at an exorbitant price,” said Wanjiru.
She noted that currently they are forced to move for long distances to get tomatoes, stating that they are the source for the produce from Machakos, Embu and Kirinyaga counties.
“Tomato crops were destroyed by rains so we are forced to travel to Machakos or even Embu to search for them. The long distance has also contributed to hiking the price,” she added.
Last month, the trader said they were selling a kilo of tomatoes at Sh 40 but currently the same quantity is being sold at Sh 100.
“Local residents normally buy quality tomatoes at not more than Sh 50 but now mentioning Sh 100 for a kilo of tomatoes is like scaring them,” added Wanjiru.
Many of the traders buy the tomatoes and other vegetables from middlemen who deliver the produce to them while others prefer to buy directly from farms.
Major markets where Murang’a traders source vegetables include Kagio in Kirinyaga County and at Karatina in Nyeri.
Another trader, Esther Mwangi said as business people who trade in vegetables they team up together and source for merchandise so as to reduce cost of transport.
Mwangi appealed to the local county government to consider lowering levies charged to small scale traders saying currently due to scarcity of vegetables and impact of coronavirus they incur huge losses.
“I appeal to county administration at least to waive fees they charge us until the situation improves because we are incuring losses due to the impact of covid-19 and unavailability of produce.” She added.
By Bernard Munyao and Catherine Wambui