Carrots ready for the market. Mombasa pays highest prices for agro-produce. Photo by Royal Horticultural Society.
Dependence on inter-county ‘importation’ is causing Mombasa County residents to pay the food highest prices, making the region the best market for agriculture products.
Currently, the county is paying almost three times more for a 138kg carrots bag than Eldoret town in Uasin Gishu County.
On wholesale the bag is selling at Sh5,500 in Mombasa’s Kongowea Market while the same is costing Sh2,000 in Eldoret, according to Sokopepe+, an agribusiness online marketplace prices surveyor.
“Mombasa basically depends on up country for every farm produce except fish. Any weather effect like drought shakes the county with high prices as the supply diminishes,” Zachary Masing’a, a trader at the Kongowea Market said.
Apart from transportation costs, which are passed on to the consumer, making items more expensive than neighbouring counties like Kilifi, there is limited land for crop farming.
Mombasa is the smallest County in Kenya, with an area of 3,079 square kilometers and its population is more than one million, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. The town is also the second biggest city in the country, therefore, residential and business buildings occupy much of its space.
The cost of the same carrot bag in Malindi, a Kilifi County town that is about 115km from Mombasa, is Sh3,500.
Despite the few agriculture activities in Kilifi, the little agro-produce from the county and that from Lamu’s Mpeketoni area may be contributing to fairly low prices.
Mombasa engages in fishing from the Indian Ocean, which surrounds much of the land mass of the town.
This year alone, the cost of fresh maize tripled in Mombasa to sell Sh5,700 while the same quantity was fetching less than Sh2,000 in Nairobi and counties in the Rift Valley.
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While buyers in Nairobi paid S13,800 for a 110kg bag of groundnuts, their Mombasa counterparts were giving out Sh16,500, a difference of Sh2,540.
Kiambu, Migori, Nyandaua, Siaya, kisii, Nyeri, Nakuru counties are some of the leading carrot producers in Kenya.