Kenya has become a big market for food imported from neighouring countries as erratic rains hit crop and livestock production.
Rains failed this season, starting in May instead of March and have since declined in most parts of the country, including in breadbasket regions, according to the meteorological department.
And, according to Uganda National Meteorological Authority, rainfall in the March-June rainy season has been above average.
Thus Tanzanian and Ugandan farmers are literary feeding Kenyans, with cities like Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu flooded with imported produce.
Topping the list of produce exported to Kenya are potatoes, oranges, onions, tomatoes, milk, eggs, onions, fruits, beans and maize. At Nairobi’s Wakulima market, tens of tonnes of farm produce is delivered every day in trucks from Tanzania.
While produce from Uganda is brought in through Busia and Malaba, that from Tanzania comes through Namanga, Isebania, Lunga Lunga and Taveta border points.
“Most of the produce sold here is from Tanzania,” said Mary Wangare, a trader.
“We are getting little from our farmers,” she added.
Wangare said the produce from Tanzania and Uganda is fairly priced as compared to that from Kenya. “Kenyan farmers are selling a 90kg bag of potatoes at Sh3,500 but the same bag from Tanzania is going from Sh3,000 or less,” she said.
The foreign produce, according to Wangare, is also popular with by traders not only because of affordability, but longer shelf-life. “Onions from Tanzania are better cured than those from Kenya which makes them have a longer shelf-life preventing us from recording losses when we buy to sell,” she said.
From Uganda, Kenya mainly imports maize and poultry products like eggs, with a 90kg bag of maize selling at Sh2,400. Maize produced in Kenya is going for Sh2,800 in wholesale markets.