Onion prices hike over shortage

Monday, August 7th, 2023 14:36 | By
Onions. PHOTO/Christine Musa

Onion prices in Kajiado County have increased sixfold following poor harvest.

Small-size onions which previously sold at five onions for Ksh10 are now trading at Ksh20 per piece, an increase witnessed in the past week.

Besides the increase in prices, traders in the sector say there is an acute shortage of the produce with some forced to sell other produce like tomatoes and cowpeas which is plenty in supply.

According to onion farmers, there was a poor harvest after farmers were duped into buying poor quality seeds sold at a cheaper price.

Some farmers did not harvest any onions, while those who got little harvests had smaller onions, leading to massive losses.

Peter Mula, an onion farmer in the Acacia area, says the onion seeds were sold at Ksh12,000 per kg instead of the usual Ksh30,000 per kg.

"The acute onion shortage is a result of lack of bumper harvest. We planted the new seedling but we have ended up harvesting nothing," Mula said.

He says the major challenge remains farmers bought the seeds voluntarily because of being cheaper and there was no warranty of the same.

"Farmers have made losses in millions but the company that sold the seeds says sales were voluntary," he added.

The onions currently on sale in the market are mainly from the neighbouring country of Tanzania with a kilogram selling at Ksh180 from the previous Ksh30 to Ksh40 per kilogram.

"We are selling a kilogram of onion at Ksh250. The sudden increase in the prices has forced most customers to opt to buy in pieces instead of kilograms. Getting wholesale price onions for sale is also a challenge. The onion supply is minimal and that is why some traders have been forced to diversify what they are selling," Nancy Nyambura, a trader at Kitengela market, said.

Ordinarily, onions are very cheap in Kajiado County owing to the large-scale onion projects under irrigation within the region which is boosted by supply from Tanzania through the Namanga border.

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