Tonnes of tomatoes are rotting in farms in Laikipia County due to inadequate market and heavy rains in the area.

A spot-check by the Business Daily has revealed that hundreds of farmers are watching helplessly as their tomato harvests waste away.

The desperate farmers have resorted to feeding cows with the tomatoes, with others dumping them on the roadsides.

“Many people have incurred huge losses as the commodity is rotting in the farms. We have also been forced to feed tomatoes to cows.

“This is the same commodity that we depend on to pay school fees for our children and doing other things,” lamented Ms Esther Wambui, a farmer in the area.

The farmers want the government to install cooling plants for storage and preservation of their produce to prevent them from going to waste.

Tanzania markets

The produce has flooded the local markets, forcing farmers from the area to reach out for new markets in Tanzania.

The Business Daily established that a 180-kilogramme crate of the commodity is going for Sh2,500 down from Sh3000 to 4000.

“We have been forced to sell our produce to traders and brokers from Tanzania as the commodity has flooded local markets,” said Mr Ezekiel Maina, a large scale tomato farmer from Sipili in Laikipia West.

He added that they are selling a 65-kg crate at Sh500 to traders from Tanzania.

“We are being exploited by middle men from Kenya who are connecting us with these traders from Tanzania, but we have no option rather than to sell the produce to them at a price of their choice,” added Mr Maina.

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Bumper harvest

Mr Simon Nderitu, another farmer, attributed the poor prices to influx and lack of buyers for the produce that has flooded the market.

“We had a bumper harvest but unfortunately there is no market for our produce,” lamented Mr Nderitu.

He added that they were incurring heavy losses as they were being forced to sell the produce at a throw-away price.

Sipili, Theria, Kinamba, Ol Moran, Marmanet, Pesi and parts of Rumuruti in Laikipia West are leaders in horticultural farming in Laikipia County.

Among the horticultural products grown in the county include tomatoes, cut flowers, onions and French beans.

tomato farming in Kenya

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