News and knowhow for farmers

Why farmers are now feeding tomatoes to cows

tomato cow

Tomato farmers in Central Kenya are now feeding their cows on the produce due to oversupply in the market that has led to a 95 per cent drop in prices from Sh11,000 recorded in May for a 60kg crate to between Sh600 to Sh800 for the same amount.

In Nairobi, a kilo of tomatoes is retailing at Sh30 from the previous Sh80 and Sh100 thereby affecting farmers’ income.

“In May many farmers in Kirinyaga ventured into tomato production expecting a bumper harvest and income but three months later we are suffering to overproduction,” said Mwangi Kariuki, one of the farmers in the region.

Kariuki who had planted half an acre farm was expecting more than Sh200,000 but so far he has only sold Sh25,000 worth of produce.

“I have incurred a loss of about Sh55,000 because when we take our produce to the market, there are very few buyers,” said Kariuki.


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A cow feeding on tomatoes. Courtesy

In 2017, Kenyan farmers lost 1.9m tonnes of food as they struggled to find markets according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

In this, Sh2.4bn worth of produce was wasted.

Of the total food wasted, maize, Kenya’s staple food was the most affected with the country losing Sh29.6bn worth of the crop yet it imported another bunch worth Sh42bn.

Green bananas were the second most affected crop as farmers lost Sh24bn worth of the produce.

Other produce that went to waste due to poor storage and handling, transport, and fungi attack, according to data contained in the 2018 Economic Survey released in April, includes Irish potatoes (Sh19.7bn), milk (Sh12.4bn), beans (Sh11.5bn), ripe yellow bananas (Sh5.6bn), sweet potatoes (Sh3.5bn), tomatoes (Sh2.4bn), pineapples (Sh2.4bn), sorghum (Sh1.9bn), and millet (Sh1.6bn).

According to the survey, Kenya loses approximately a third of its produce yearly through post-harvest losses and wastage by consumers who buy more food than they can consume.


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