The price of one kilogram of green grams (ndengu) has dropped to between Sh30 to Sh45 from Sh65 in January due to excess production driven by last year’s project where more than 6,000 farmers in Kitui received free green gram seeds at a cost of Sh100m.
The farmers want to sell their produce at Sh100 per kilo to enable them earn profits and realize their return on investment.
In 2017, the farmers received approximately 88.5 metric tonnes from the county government in collaboration with the Kenya Red Cross leading to a harvest of more than 33,000 tonnes of the produce hence flooding the market.
The programme dubbed ‘Ndengu Revolution’ was meant to end food insecurity in the County that has been grappling with pangs of hunger for a long period of time. It was also aimed at improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and reducing poverty by spurring rural development by reducing dependency on food aid, however, accessing markets is now a big challenge for the farmers.
Green grams. Photo/courtesy
Currently, a 90kg bag of green grams is retailing at Sh6,200 in Nairobi, Sh5,800 in Mombasa, Sh7,200 in Kisumu, Sh10,800 in Eldoret, Sh6,300 in Nakuru and Sh8,500 in Malindi according to soko+, an online digital trading platform that connects smallholder farmers to bulk buyers of produce.
Kenya’s horticulture earnings rose to Sh56.23bn in the first four months of 2018 up from Sh40.57bn in a similar period last year according to the latest data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
The Horticultural Directorate reports that the industry is the fastest growing sub sector in agriculture in Kenya and has been buoyed by compliance with export market requirements by the European Union.
Earlier this year, the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service trained over 65 fruit and vegetable exporters on international market requirements for food safety on exports to the European Union at a time when EU has dictated strict standards for products imported from other countries.
The EU has placed Kenya on the radar as one of the countries with 10 per cent increased Maximum Residual Levels (MRLs), which are the set legal levels of concentration of pesticide residues in or on food.