Impact of the COVID-19 to Agricultural Traders
Weeks into the imposed measures by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus, roads in the busy farmers’ market have become deserted and vendors who paraded their goods on the road side scarce.
Kenyans in agriculture and informal trades continue to feel the ripple effect on their businesses. Vibandas are deserted, stocked goods are going to waste and demand of goods declining.
“I have never seen anything like this. Since the curfew was announced, I am struggling to reach my daily target. By the time its 6:30pm, I am already preparing to close the kibanda, even turning away customers who want to buy something. I dispose of unbought vegetables because I too want to get home before curfew time. I do not know how I will sustain my family in the coming days,” remarked a frustrated Mama Moraa, a local grocer.
Agricultural commodities in the market are taking a hit as the price of local produce continue to sky rocket. One piece of potato is currently retailing at Ksh 10 and a kilogram going for Ksh 180. Prices of poultry and livestock feeds, fertilizers, and livestock medication have also increased as a result of the pandemic and curfew implication.
Moreover, local suppliers have not been spared either. Where they used to ferry agricultural products at night, they are now being forced to transport the commodities to the markets during the day. This poses a danger to the state in which these products reach the markets and especially perishable products such as tomatoes, French beans, milk and flowers.
The spread of the virus globally has seen its effect bleed into the Kenyan agricultural sector; with horticultural farmers and exporters incurring hefty freight charges in order to ferry their goods, while others are unable to ship their goods due to the decline in demand and cancelation of orders from the European markets.
Mr Kariuki an entrepreneur and farmer from Kitui, is a huge exporter of horticultural products. He informs Kilimo Insight of the pending six tonnes of French beans he intends to harvest from his farm in Mid-May.
“I am currently in talks with the exporting company I use to find alternative solutions of how I will make sales from the harvest. I cannot bank on the demand of the international markets at the moment, as demand is really low because of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Said Mr Kariuki.
As the government encourages citizens to observe preventative measures such as staying at home, social distancing, maintaining hygiene by hand washing and avoiding crowded places, this pandemic and curfew adherence has shown the need for farmers and agricultural traders to adopt to alternative ways of conducting business like telephone farming and adopting to value chain strategies.