Chinese garlic has flooded the Kenyan market as the Far East suppliers cash in on an acute shortage of the commodity locally.
Official data indicate that Kenya imported 50 per cent of garlic from China as traders moved to bridge the huge supply gap.
The Directorate of Horticulture says the volumes that Kenya produces in a year, which is about 2,000 tonnes, is not enough to meet the annual demand.
Data from the directorate indicate that the yields have been growing marginally but the value has been going up driven by a shortage in the market.
“We do not produce enough garlic for our own use and we have to import about half of what we get locally to bridge the deficit,” says the directorate.
In 2015, Kenya produced 1,928 metric tonnes of garlic worth Sh74 million while in 2017 the quantities went up to 2,379 with the value of Sh173 million.
The statistics from this State agency also shows that the acreage under production has been going up over the years, from 209 hectares in 2015 to 254 in 2017.
Most of the imports are coming in from China where a huge consignment of the produce are shipped into the country and sold to traders. A survey by the Business Daily reveals that local and Chinese garlic retails at the same price with a single piece selling for Sh10.
However, the Chinese garlic is bigger than the local ones, luring many buyers. Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service did not respond to queries on the safety of the imports.
There have been concerns over the safety of goods that are imported from other countries, especially China, with questions arising on whether they meet the Kenyan safety standards.
Food products from China have been on an increase in recent years as the Asian giant finds a ready market for their farm produce in Kenya.
Fish imports from China hit Sh1.7 billion last year stepping up competition with the locally produced ones in a move that is almost edging out Kenyan traders.
Data from the State department of fisheries indicate Kenya imported 22,000 tonnes of fish mainly from China, worth Sh1.7 billion against Sh1.5 billion the previous year.