Dickens Wasonga @PeopleDailyKe
Tomato suppliers within Kibuye market in Kisumu county have raised concern over what they term as invasion of the business by cartels and middlemen.
The traders said middlemen have invaded one of the largest open-air markets in East Africa to cash in on the shortage of the commodity through importation from Uganda and Tanzania.
They said with prices dropping due to unchecked imports that have flooded the market, many farmers have left crops to rot in the fields and asked the county government to intervene.
On Monday last week, more than 500 tomato traders from the market took to the streets of Kisumu to register their displeasure with the tomato brokers who they claim have pocketed market officials from the county government to aid the alleged unhealthy business competition.
Traders who spoke to People Daily said they were losing the perishable commodity as cartels collude with the market officials to bar them from selling what they have sourced from local farmers until the imports from the neighbouring countries are sold. They claimed that the brokers were evading paying taxes levied by county government.
Grace Chepkemoi, one of the affected traders said she has been in the tomato business as a wholesaler since 2010. She usually buys a tomato from small-scale farmers in Nyando sub-county and other neighbouring counties but is now faced with lack of market for her supplies due to the unfair practices she says might force many local suppliers out of the business.
‘’We want to do business in an environment where each supplier has the freedom to sell without being restricted as opposed to the prevailing situation where cartels determine who can sell when to sell and who should not” Chepkemoi said.