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Christmas boom for savvy farmers

Friday December 21 2018

 Vincent Onyango feeding the birds at Uriya

 Vincent Onyango feeding the birds at Uriya Village in Bumala, Busia County. PHOTO|ELIZABETH OJINA|NMG 

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Every Christmas season is normally accompanied by heavy spending on various consumer products, and this is not any different.

Farm produce such as vegetables, mutton, pork, eggs, goat meat, chickens and milk are among the commodities whose demand has automatically risen thanks to the festive season.

But has the increased spending left farmers any better this time round?

Peter Kunyonya, a poultry and dairy goat farmer in Utawala, Nairobi, says that there is a significant improvement in the sale of farm produce this festive season.

Demand for poultry products has shot up, he says, and many shoppers are currently making bookings at his farm to buy chicken and ducks.

He is selling a mature cock for up to Sh1,800 compared to Sh800 during the low season. Similarly, a duck is going for up Sh2,500.

And the situation is no different for vegetable farmers. Considering that many crop farmers across the country registered bumper harvest, most of them have had to contend with low prices due to glut in the previous months.

A reprieve to consumers

A kilo of maize flour for instance dropped from Sh70 to almost Sh40. While the prices were a reprieve to consumers, they dealt a big blow to farmers who have been enduring high cost of production.
The festive season, however, has brought a bag of goodies to savvy farmers.

Joseph Olooimoja, a vegetable farmer in Maili Tisa in Namanga, says that he has made a killing in the last weeks as demand for his produce rises.

The farmer who grows onions, spinach, managu, watermelons and butternuts, says increased demand for the vegetables has offered him better profit margins.

“I had several kilos of onions in the store but we have now released them into the market due to huge demand and better pricing.”
Until a few weeks ago, demand and prices for the commodities were terribly low, Olooimoja says, but now the costs have significantly improved especially for farmers selling directly to consumers.

A blessing to savvy farmers

During the low season for instance, Olooimoja recalls selling a kilo of onions at Sh40 at farm gate price. Currently, he is selling a kilo of the commodity at Sh50 at the farm gate and Sh70 on retail.

To cash in on the enhanced prices, he has avoided middlemen and established a depot in Eastleigh, Nairobi where he stocks and sells his produce directly to consumers and retailers.

However, Seeds of Gold has established that the season is only showering blessings to savvy farmers like Olooimoja, who have the volumes and the means to reach consumers directly. A crate of tomatoes, for instance, is currently going for an average of Sh7,000, but farmers selling to middlemen are offering them an average of Sh4,000.

Lucas Mutua is a small-scale horticultural farmer in Ruai and he is not reaping from the Christmas boom. He currently has dozens of egg plants which are ready for market, but has to sell through middlemen.
The middlemen are buying the egg plants from his farm at Sh40 a kilo. “There isn’t a huge difference in the price margins for me this Christmas. The middlemen are the one benefiting instead,” he says.