Households in Kenya have to dig deeper into their pockets to buy onions as prices rise sharply due to a biting shortage.
The price of a kilogramme of onion has shot up by 86 per cent, selling at Sh150 up from Sh80 last month.
The new price has been caused by a shortage of supply from Tanzania which normally floods the markets with its high-grade onions.
Traders are now being forced to rely on local crop that is selling at a wholesale price of Sh100 per kilo.
“At a time like now we are usually selling the Tanzanian onions which flood the market and earn us good profit but with the closure of boarders and limited movement, we are relying on what is locally produced,” said Mr Cyrus Gichuki, a trader at the Nyeri open air market.
Though Nyeri’s Kieni Constituency is a top onion producer, traders the county often prefer importing onions, saying they are cheaper.
“The imported onions are cheaper, sold in bulk unlike the local ones that are weighed in kilos,” added Mr Gichuki. He said that the local farmers sell their onions before they are mature, making them tom perish faster.
The traders, who were also importing peas from Tanzania, have increased their price of by 25 per cent, from Sh80 to Sh100 per kilo, in the last three weeks.
“We are expecting prices to continue going up since a majority of the items we sold came from Tanzania,” said Mr Charles Kiama, a trader, adding that prices of oranges have shot up from Sh80 per kilo to Sh100.
Farmers on the other hand have explained that they are forced to sell their onions at high prices to avoid making loses.
“While our neighbours enjoy support from the government which reduces their cost of production, I have invested heavily in cultivating and harvesting the onions and buying farm inputs just to produce a bulb of onion,” said Mr Warui Kahinga, a farmer in Kiawara.
They now want the government to cushion them from being pushed out of the market.
Potato prices have shot up by 30 per cent with a 17kg bucket of the commodity selling at Sh650 up from Sh500.
However, with increased rainfall being experienced in the country, there is availability of vegetables such as green collards, spinach, cabbage, courgettes and carrots