John Karanja, a hotelier in the northwestern Kenyan town of Kitale, had for the better part of this year grappled with high costs of fresh vegetables.
The prolonged dry spell experienced in Kenya and the greater Horn of Africa region from January to late April suppressed food production even in the traditional bread baskets like Kitale town where Karanja resides.
Only a handful of farmers managed to produce vegetable through irrigation. The situation forced Karanja to spend more on vegetable to maintain his hotel business.
The drought fueled a serious shortage of vegetable such as kale, cabbage, tomatoes and traditional vegetable such as African nightshades.
Karanja like other hoteliers had to contend with the skyrocketing prices of vegetable occasioned by low supply.
“I used to spend a lot of money on vegetable since my supplier had doubled the prices due to shortages,” Karanja told Xinhua in an interview on Tuesday.
The price of a sack of kale was going at 2,800 Kenyan shillings (28 U.S. dollars), up from 12 dollars while the of cabbage rose from 0.2 dollars to a dollar per piece.
But since last week, vegetable supply has increased, courtesy of heavy rains pounding different parts of the country.
The rains have enabled farmers to grow vegetable which has since improved supply.
“It is a relief to us. The cost of vegetables has gone down and it is affordable. My returns are better than the previous months when I spent more on the produce,” said Karanja.
The improved vegetable supply is not only a relief for hoteliers but also the inhabitants of Kitale town. Grace Wambui admits that the high costs of vegetable had burdened her purse.
“Previously I used to spend 0.3 U.S. dollar to buy kale for supper for my family but after the supply dwindled and price shot up I had to spend 0.7 U.S. dollar,” said Wambui, a civil servant.
Eric Mboya, a technician in Kitale town said that the rains have been a blessing to residents in the greater North Rift region.
“The high cost of food had in the past weeks emptied my wallet. Imagine spending over one U.S dollar on vegetable. Vegetable supply has increased and we are spending less money,” said Mboya, a father of six. Enditem