By George Munene
Since 2017, Joshua Mamwaka, an agriproduce broker and trader at Nairobi’s Marikiti market has been charting the prices of Kenya’s agricultural commodity prices. His weekly price updates ensure farmers he works with have the prices of tomatoes, onions, potatoes, etc., at hand. Having mapped price trends for up to three years, the Nairobi University Economics graduate, also offers farmers, mama mbogas, and other brokers, a crystal ball; predicting future commodity prices with a proven accuracy of up to 90 per cent.
After buying expensive inputs and going through the painstaking task of sowing and tending to their crops to maturity, farmers are at times disappointed with the prices they are met with at markets or are quoted to by brokers. As Joshua puts it, “Farmers have rightly majored in food production, however, this often comes at the cost of abandoning the more important aspect of sales, which is the bigger determinant in running a successful agribusiness.”
Onions as an example are at their highest from the tail end of March through to mid June when the prices of Kenyan onions collapse on entry of Tanzanian onions. This persists until mid November. Mid November to mid March makes up what Joshua describes as gambler’s market; “While prices can be fair, they are often affected by factors such as the boom and burst nature of Kenyan agriculture; market oversupply one year is often followed by undersupply the next as speculative farmers who had grown a crop that did well the previous year inevitably ditch it.”
As a rule of thumb, when the wholesale kilo price of onions for example is Sh60, the farm gate price should be less Sh 25-15 which is the broker’s fee, determined by quantity and distance to market. Higher commodity prices mean the broker’s spread rises and their margins are lower when prices fall. This swings vary with different crops.
With the weekly price intel and the data he has collated, Mamwaka hopes to keep farmers who are often far from major markets, and/or are unable to access them in the know. To this end, he is working on publishing his inaugural 2022 price market guide.
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Joshua will begin publishing a synopsis of the weekly price trends of foodstuff in the country on Farmbiz with a more exhaustive breakdown to be found on his Marikiti Price Watch WhatsApp group at an annual cost of Sh 500. You can reach Joshua on 0792404438
He will also host a webinar delving deeper into how farmers can time their planting and harvesting to get higher returns by understanding annual and seasonal price trends. To register follow this link: Mapping crop prices to earn more