Potato and tomato prices have gone up by 50 per cent over the last two months due to raging floods that have cut off roads making it difficult for farmers to transport their produce to the markets.
The price of a 64kg box of tomatoes according to the ministry of agriculture’s commodity pricing for instance is currently retailing at between Sh6500 to Sh8500 compared to February when the same amount was selling at a high of Sh5200 and a low of Sh2500.
In Laikipia, Nyandarua, Kericho and Narok counties, tomatoes are rotting in farmers’ farms due to poor roads that have been affected by rains.
Potato prices have increased from between Sh1500 and Sh2500 for a 50kg bag recorded in February this year to between Sh1800 and Sh3000 this month.
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It is not all gloom however, for consumers as the prices of maize flour and kales have decreased compared to the beginning of the year.
The price of a two kilogram packet of maize flour has declined from a high of Sh140 in January to between Sh90 and Sh100 currently.
A 90kg bag of maize is retailing at Sh2500 to Sh2900 down from Sh3200 paid by the National Cereals and Produce Board during the 2017 harvesting season.
The price of kales (sukumawiki) has gone down from an average of Sh1200 per bag to Sh700.
In Kenya, potatoes are grown in approximately 35,000 hectares by more than 800,000 smallholder farmers. The production of the crop annually is estimated at Sh50bn and the government through the Kenya Health Inspectorate Service and the National Potato Council of Kenya is marketing the crop as the food of choice.
The major potato production areas in Kenya include Nyandarua, Nakuru, Bungoma, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Bomet, and Trans-Nzoia.
The promotion of the crop is aimed at diversifying crop production at a time when the country’s staple food, maize is recording a decline in production due to fall armyworm infestation and diseases such as lethal necrosis and maize smut.
In 2017, maize production declined to 35.2m bags from 37.1m bags in 2016.