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Falling food prices ease budget strain

Maize traders in Kisii market. PHOTO | BENSON MOMANYI | NMG
Maize traders in Kisii market. PHOTO | BENSON MOMANYI | NMG 

Prices of key food items have continued to fall as drought conditions in the country abate, easing the pinch that Kenyans have been experiencing on their household budgets.

Latest food prices published by the Agriculture Food Authority (AFA) show that prices of maize, green vegetables, wheat, sugar and potatoes have fallen, which bodes well for the cost of living (inflation), which rose by 8.04 per cent in the year to August.

The start of the harvesting season for green maize has seen supplies increasing where an extended sack is selling for Sh2,000 compared to Sh2,836 last June, while dry maize is now fetching Sh3,600 down from Sh3,945.

Increased dry maize supply has also seen the government announce plans to end the maize subsidy programme, allowing market forces to dictate the price of maize flour.

A survey in Nairobi showed that a 50 kilogramme (kg) sack of sugar is selling at Sh4,400 down from Sh5,850 with the same quantity of wheat going for Sh3,600 down from Sh3,945.

The advent of the rains has also seen the price of cabbages fall where an extended bag of 126 kg is selling at Sh1,340 compared to two months ago when the same quantity sold for Sh2,314.

Irish potatoes that cost Sh3,066 last June for a 110 kg sack are now going for Sh1,660 as fresh harvests continue hitting the market.

Green gram, which sold for Sh9,563 for a 90 kilogramme sack in June is now retailing for Sh8,396 while sweet potatoes, which sold for Sh3,392 are now selling for Sh3,740. While the cost of other produce has fallen, tomatoes have continued to fetch a premium price.

The AFA report shows that on average the price of a 64 kg crate of tomatoes has nearly doubled to Sh6,200 compared to Sh3,841 reported in June, with Kisii and Eldoret residents hardest hit as a crate is going for Sh9,500.

Vendors across Nairobi have now shunned sale of tomatoes per kilo in favour of piecemeal sales where buyers are paying Sh10 a piece with some retail vendors packaging three for Sh25.

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