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Poor working conditions, high taxation blamed for high tomato prices

26 July 2014, 09:30 Mike Munga

Nairobi - Tomato traders at Muthurwa market on Friday said poor working conditions and high taxation are core factors for increased prices for the commodity.

Willie Mativo, a farmer and businessman at the market said the crop is taxed at the County level, on the roads and at the market, contributing to its high prices.

He also attributed the high prices to the invasion of the crop by pests and the price of pesticides which he said is too high for the peasant farmers.

“Unlike yester-years where a farmer could be taxed only once and use the same receipt for the rest of the day, nowadays tomatoes are highly taxed. We pay taxes every morning and yet there are no noticeable services we are getting in return,” Mativo said.

“In the rainy season, the market is inhospitable as vehicles can’t maneuver the muddy roads making our operations hard. We are forced to take our meals in a dirty environment, something that may lead to food contamination,” said Samson Maina, another businessman, adding that Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero should at least put murram on the market to make it passable.

On Friday, a crate of tomatoes was trading at a wholesale price of KES 5 000 up from the KES 4 200 last month. Small traders were selling three tomatoes at KES 30.

However, potato and onion traders are reaping big from their commodities. Agnes Ngangu, a potato farmer in Narok County and a trader at the market said business is good.

“Potatoes are coming from various parts of the country and people are heavily consuming them as many of the city residents prefer taking chips as their lunch,” she said.

Potatoes are now trading at KES 2 200 a sack down from KES 4 500 last month.

Mlolongo-based trader, Emily Mbinya said prices of onions have come down from KES 2 800 two months ago to KES 1 700 this month.

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