Poor timing and entry of middlemen in the supply chain are chopping off more than 40 per cent of the farmer’s earnings from snap peas despite the rise in prices for most agro-products.
Snap peas, snow peas and French beans are among Kenya’s leading fresh produce exported to the European Union, the US and other countries.
Although the export market is wide and paying well, Meru County farmer Julius Laban is selling snap peas to middlemen, who are paying dismally.
The brokers transport the produce to exporters in Nairobi.
Being a fresh product, holding it more can cause more losses, and this is pushing the farmer to dispose of the snap peas at Sh100 per kilo instead of the usual Sh250 for the same quantity.
With sufficient rain, Laban harvests at least 800kg from a 10m by 70m plot, which he says, should ideally earn him Sh200,000 in gross income.
Given the competition from other farmers, who flood the market, he has settled for a gross income of Sh80,000.
“Farmers have no choice when they cannot access high-end markets on their own. They take whatever the brokers offer. The export market for most horticultural products is flourishing, but this only benefits those who never worked hard in the farm,” he said.
Producing when every farmer is having the same crop reduces the price of the commodity as the buyers are spoilt for choice.
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The price of commodities has been on the rise and only those who relied on irrigation benefitted from the high prices.
Snow peas take about eight weeks to mature. From the onset of the rains in March, the harvest is already booming. When the peas are in plenty, the buyers cut down on the price as the desperate farmers struggle to sell the fresh produce.