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Why veggies in Nairobi are costly

Did you know the reason you pay double the value of vegetables has nothing to do with taxes or the rising cost of fuel?

Nairobians are paying two times more for vegetables and fruits that do not end up at their table. 

Research has shown that only half of fresh produce transported from farms reaches Nairobi markets in good condition. 

Variety and size

The other half is damaged during harvesting and transportation. Consequently, traders and transporters recoup the losses by charging double, according to a survey by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Jkuat). 

Vegetables produced in Juja and Kitengela are the most affected, yet the towns are Nairobi’s biggest suppliers because of their proximity. 

The Post-Harvest Loss Assessment survey carried out by Jkuat, Usaid and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (Kari) also shows that 21 per cent of losses occur during storage. 

A further 16 per cent is lost during picking, handling, sorting and cleaning. 

“This affects productivity of farmers. The quality needed by consumers causes supply to shrink, hence the high prices for the trader, and low income for the farmer,” said Kari’s deputy director Dr Lusike Wasilwa. 

Forty-five per cent of Kitengela’s tomatoes supplied pale before reaching the market. 

The researchers were more worried because one in every five of the city residents chooses their produce due to freshness. 

“Variety or size matter less for Nairobians. This means the physical condition of the vegetable may be the only thing it will require to sell,” said Dr Willis Owino, one of the researchers and a senior Food Science lecturer at Jkuat.