Tomato, ‘mboga’ shortages hit Kongowea Market

By Fred Kai On Thu, 26 Dec, 2019 18:19 | 2 mins read
A crate of the crop in Nairobi now retails at Ksh9, 000, or in some places, Ksh12, 000, up from Ksh6, 000 about a month or two ago. [PHOTO | FILE]
A crate of the crop in Nairobi now retails at Ksh9, 000, or in some places, Ksh12, 000, up from Ksh6, 000 about a month or two ago. [PHOTO | FILE]

Mombasa’s biggest market, Kongowea, has been hit by a shortage of tomatoes, vegetables and potatoes, among other foodstuff, due to a limited supply.

Traders in the busy market say heavy rains being experienced in rural parts of Kenya have led to rotting of farm produce, and, in some cases, rendered roads impassable, therefore, disrupting transportation of the produce to the far-flung market.

A box of tomatoes that was being sold at Ksh5, 000 in the market a few weeks ago is now trading at Ksh7, 000.

A sack of potatoes, on the other hand, is currently retailing atKsh3, 000 up from Ksh1, 500 a few weeks ago.

Julius Muthegi, a trader in charge of the tomato section, said the Christmas and New Year festivities have not contributed — in any way — to the hike in prices.

“Very few lorries are bringing tomatoes to the market this Christmas season. And this is because many farmers across Kenya had nothing, or little, to harvest during the rainy season,” said Muthegi.

“The rains destroyed tomatoes in farms. To make matters worse, the road networks were also affected, making it hard to transport the produce from far-flung farms to Kongowea,” he added.

Besides tomatoes, other farm produce affected include potatoes and vegetables.

Kamau Ndirangu, a trader in charge of the potatoes section, said he is optimistic that the food prices in Kongowea will go down after the rains subside in many parts of the country.

“A medium-size cabbage normally goes for Ksh30 or Ksh40, but after the rains wreaked havoc in many farms across the country, the same size of cabbage now sells at Ksh70 or Ksh80. We are hopeful that from early or mid-January 2020, prices will normalise,” said Peter Musau, a cabbage trader.

The grocers urged the Mombasa County Government to improve the hygiene in the market, saying it is ironical that the county administration collects from them millions of shillings in taxes, yet their work station exposes them to health hazards.

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