Saturday, June 27, 2015

Modern Vs Traditional Food Buying

TWS|| Nick Waigwa

I recently I received both good and disturbing news. The good news is the confirmation of the pontiff’s visit to Kenya. The sad news is about how farm produce is going to waste in some parts of Kenya as the cost of food in cities and major towns continue to sky rocket.

I will be blogging about Pope Francis’ visit to Kenya in the coming days but for now I get to the bit about wastage of food at the expense of farmer’s livelihoods and the consumers food security.

As a farmer who knows what it takes to journey with a crop to its maturity, I must confess that the most painful experience is to see how buyers treat farmers with disdain and subject them to dehumanizing prices. In fact it is only in Kenya where the cost of farming inputs is never factored when the costing of farm produce is done. The reality of incurred costs get to life once the produce has reached the markets.

A couple of days ago, I gave my mother a call to find out how they were doing. Usually she would start with all the good staff then get to the negative ones. She was disappointed that her tomatoes did not fetch the money she had expected.

If I may quote her  “ sai nyanya huku zina pigwa mateke, Hata hakuna magari ya wanunuzi.” For the sake of those who don’t understand Swahili, what she meant is that tomatoes are going to waste and there are no buyers. Tomato is usually bought by investors from cities through brokers or middlemen who impose dehumanizing pric
es on farmers.

Disturbed by this reality I took time to visit a local retail market on mission to establish how much tomato is retailing at. I also sought to find out how much green maize and dry beans were retailing. My finding was mind boggling.

With all due respect to the value chain existing between the farmer and the consumer you will not require a financial analyst to tell you that something is wrong. There are two casualties in this exploitation the farmer on one side and the consumer on the other end.

A grade 1 tomato in the local market I visited is retailing at KSH 10, one comb of green maize is retailing at KSH 25 and Kg of the Yellow Bean as is commonly called is retailing at KSH 100.

According to those on the ground in areas where these items come from; a large crate of tomato is as I write retailing at between KSH 1500 to 2000. A person who understands the large crate I am talking about would agree with me that the crate carries over 200 tomatoes.

A comb of green maize in Loitokitok hardly goes beyond KSH 10. The last time I checked it was KSH 5. The buyers go for the best and if one is not careful they steal close to a quarter of the harvest. A kg of the “yellow bean” would hardly go beyond KSH40 but shoots to KSH100 once it gets to the city.

It is only a fool by choice who would not be able to see the level of exploitation. Farmers continue to suffer losses as consumers get exposed to food insecurity and malnutrition because of opportunistic investors who thrive on other people’s sweat. 

As the lady who sold a comb of green maize to me said, “anaye lima na anaye nunua hapa sokoni ndio wanaumia” she meant that those who suffer most are the farmers and the consumer. It is very hard to justify the disparity between the prices of food at the producers farm and the cost of the same once it reaches the market.

A friend from foreign country I chose not publish here once told me. ‘Kenyan are stupidly patient’ whether that is true or not, I have chosen not to be stupidly patient on this one. As an African leader, I am one by the way, I chose to heed St. John Paul the II's advice to African leaders when he visited Kenya in 1995. He told African leaders to ‘use all their wisdom’. You too are a leader and I have no doubt that you are going to put all your wisdom on duty.

The time to fully utilize that wisdom is now. If you are interested in having a positive influence on the rural economy and the livelihood of the farmers who produce the food you eat, this is the time to for us to say enough is enough.

This is the thing. I am inviting you join the Garden to City Food buying Solution. You will not only contribute to the welfare of the farmer and contribute to improving the rural economy but save a great deal of your money. Money that ends up in the pockets of exploitative markets at your expense and that of the farmer
Together, those who are pretty serious about what they eat and consider to join the club will enjoy the benefit of buying better directly at reasonable prices directly from the source. This solution is for a concerned person like me who knows that saving as little as 25 per day for 365 days is enough to buy a goat end of year party or sort  out back to school shopping in January.

If you are pretty serious about adjusting your food buying behavior this solution is for you. It is an alternative to the traditional way of bringing food to your kitchen. It is a baby who is promising to grow big and better as the membership grows.

Keep watching this space for more on the benefits and how we are going to go about it. Our affiliate program is attractive and you should just be in to benefit from the discount package that come with it.
Are you in? Send an email at

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