Andrew Kusewa at a vegetable display plot during the 2016 Nairobi ASK Show. Vegetable farmers are earning double following the short supply. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.
Farmers who rely on irrigation have doubled vegetable revenue with the prolonged drought causing a rise in the cost of vegetable in major towns like Nairobi.
Most farmers have been driven into a production recess as the rains, which they depend go missing for more than three months.
Damacline Kemunto, a Nairobi resident, has over the last one month doubled her vegetable budget for cabbage and kales-commonly called sukuma wiki.
A cabbage head of about one and half kilogrammes, which she previously bought from Uthiru at between Sh30 and Sh40 in October 2016, costs her between Sh80 and Sh100.
“The cost of vegetables is rising to beat flour! Things are getting worse because if the drought persists, meat is going to be cheaper than vegetables,” Kemunto said.
The same is happening to sukuma wiki, which is consumed by millions of rural and urban residents.
Four bunches of sukuma wiki costing Sh20 were sufficient for her family of five. But now she needs at least Sh50 for a single meal.
Sukuma wiki of about Sh5 is sufficient for an individual, but now, one may require Sh10 or more.
The traditional vegetables, commonly called mboga kienyeji, are no better.
Albert Otieno Ogeda says a mixture of spider flower, black night shade and amaranth costing Sh300 took him through the week with his family of five. It is no longer the case.
“The same bunch, which I used to buy at Sh20 is going for Sh35 at Kawangware. By the end of January, the budget for vegetables was double what I always spend,” he said.
A survey released this week by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates that a cabbage that cost about Sh45 in January 2016 is fetching between Sh70 and Sh90 the same month of 2017.
The study says three leaves of sukuma wiki cost Sh10 in January. One kilo of kales costs about Sh47, yet by last year, the same time it fetched Sh34.
Fortunately, the tomatoes have not shot high like the greens, therefore, Kemunto like many other urbanites use them in plenty in cooking dagaa- commonly called omena- and eggs.
The KNBS report says January 2017 inflation rose to 6.99 per cent from 6.35 in December.
This is the highest inflation record for 11 months, remaining marginally below the Central Bank of Kenya’s preferred limit of 7.5 per cent.
The dry spell has persisted from October 2016, when few regions in the country received short rains.
One of the contributing factors to the rise is the cost of vegetables is the limited supply due to the production from irrigation fields alone.
Kawangware and Uthiru are residential areas outside Nairobi City.