BY ABDI HUSSEIN
A supply crisis for tomatoes has left most food eateries and other consumers grappling with high prices of tomato for the last two weeks in Kajiado County.
With negative economic impact hitting hard in the five counties including Kajiado recently slapped with movements restrictions by the government,fast foods eateries where tomatoes rule the menu are rising prices.
Some eateries are slicing tomatoes thinner, serving fewer tomatoes to pop in dissatisfied customers.Some supermarkets have run out of stock after selling a Kilogram of tomotoes at sh 100 in the past few days
“With Government Covid 19 restrictions we have few customers yet tomato prices are skyrocketing.We have no option apart from reducing the quantity of tomato slices or hike prices,” Said Janes Matara,fast food eatery owner in Kitengela town.
Tomato supply from Loitoktok in Kajiado South Subcounty-county basket known to produce more 0.5 tonnes annually- has taken a downward trajectory increasing the prices.
For years Kajiado supplied tomatoes to Nairobi,part of Mombasa and other neighbouring counties.
A spot check indicate a normal crate of tomato is currently retailing at Sh 7,000 upward from Sh 4,000 a month ago.An exobitantant upward extended package known as ‘Turbo crate”, is retailing in between Sh 13,000-15,000.A month ago,the same crate retailed between Sh 6,000-sh 7,000.
Tomato remains the most sort for farm produce in loitok tok with middle men offering to buy tomatoes from the farm unlike before when they usually demand the farmer to transport the farm produce to collection centres.
Farmers attribute the tomato shortage and prices increase to adverse climate change pushing farmers from the agribusiness sector.
Mr Malik Mureu,tomato trader and processor, said most farmers missed planting tomatoes last season due to inconsistent rainfall patterns.
“Few tomato farmers planted in the last season owing to erratic weather patterns and high fertilizer and other farm inputs.It is the high time government agricultural extension officers enlighten farmers on planting and marketing cycles,”Said Mureu.
Supermarkets,Grocery stores, Mama Mboga in retail markets however, can’t weather such hiked prices with consumers feeling the bite in their pockets.