Towns beat Nairobi in agro-produce prices

Red cabbage Nyeri, ASK By Laban Robert.JPG

Farmers at the background admire red cabbage at the Nyeri ASK Show Ground in 2016. Cabbage sellers in Busia town are making close to three times more than their Nairobi counterparts. Photo by Laban Robert.

Unlike the popular believe that Nairobi market offers the highest prices for agro-products, farmers selling goods like cabbages in Busia town and other regions are making close to three times more profits due to the market demand.

At wholesale price, farmers are selling a 126kg bag of cabbage at Sh5,040 in Busia town while their Nairobi counterparts are getting Sh1,740 for the same quantity.

The difference between the two towns is Sh3,300, according to the National Farmers Information Service, NAFIS.

That means that the cost of one kilo of a cabbage costs Sh40 in Busia town and about Sh14 in the capital city.

Nakuru, which is a mainly agricultural town in the Rift Valley, pays Sh1,200 - the lowest for the 126kg cabbage bag.

Mombasa, Kisumu, Kitui, Meru and Kisii pay Sh4,500, Sh2,400, Sh2,000 and S2,500, Sh1,800 respectively.

Western and parts of Rift Valley are the main food producing regions in the country, with counties like Trans-Nzoia, Kakamega, Busia, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Vihiga and Bungoma economies being supported by agriculture.

Busia County borders Uganda.  The recent drought that hit most parts of Kenya also ravaged food crops in neighbouring country.

The Bank of Uganda in mid April announced that the ongoing drought has hard hit the agriculture sector.

The drought has been described as “exceptional” and the “worst in the country’s history”, according to the All East Africa newspaper.

Indeed the country recorded temperatures of up to 38.5 degrees centigrade in northern region district, Nebii.

“The cross-border trade may be the reason cabbage and other commodities are becoming expensive here.  A small cabbage that was selling at about Sh10 is costing more than Sh40,” Francis Jumba, a resident of the border town, said.

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The resident said he has left the cabbages for “special occasions” and moved to sukuma wiki, which is more affordable.

Ironically, a 50kg bag of sukuma wiki (kales) at wholesale is costing Sh2,000 in Nairobi while wholesalers in Busia are paying Sh550.

In general, tomatoes and maize prices have more than doubled in Kenya as a result of the dry spell that lasted for more than four months, from October 2016.

The cost of production, market proximity from the area of production, perishability, demand and supply, are among the market dynamics determining the cost of commodities.

For instance the cost of cabbages produced from farms near Nakuru will cost almost twice when sold in Mombasa, which relies of goods from upcountry. But the price may also be lower in Mombasa than in Nakuru if the demand in the prior town is poor.