Kenyan traders turn to Ethiopia for tomato imports

ADDIS ABEBA – Kenya is now importing tomatoes from Ethiopia to bridge the market deficit that has seen the commodity’s prices more than double in the past month, reports from Nairobi said.

A single tomato is currently retailing at Sh30 in most parts of the country up from between Sh5 and 10.

Traders said that the price of the imported tomatoes has also gone up and now costs Sh4, 000 per crate compared to last year’s price of Sh2, 000, according to Kenya’s Star newspaper.

Once in Kenya, this is divided into three categories with a large crate retailing at Sh 18,000, Sh 11,000 for the medium crate and the Sh4, 000 for the small crate.

Last year, the large crate retailed at Sh8, 000 while the Medium and small crates retailed at Sh4, 500 and Sh2, 000 respectively.

Traders have warned of a continued shortage blamed on changing rain patterns that has affected production. Tomatoes are 95 percent water, with most varieties soaking up summer rains to become juicy on the vine.

Kenya’s weather forecast for March-April-May 2020 shows that enhanced rainfall is expected; however above-average rainfall is expected across the country.

The expected rainfall is likely to be higher than the long-term average amounts (above normal) for the season.

According to Kenya’s National Farmers Service (NFS), tomato farming is appropriate during the dry season as the crop is less prone to diseases such as tomato blight, leaf curling and powdery mildew which cause more than half of the losses in affected plants. [ Sh100 = €0.91 ]

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