As food prices soar, Kenyans dig deeper into their pockets

The price of one litre of Kerosene has risen from Sh54 in September last year to Sh68 today. A spot check at fuel stations in Pangani estate showed that kerosene was retailing at between Sh67.90 to Sh68.

Kenyans have been forced to tighten their belts as the prices of basic goods, particularly those of foodstuffs and fuel continue to soar since the beginning of the year.

Among the basic foods whose prices have shot up since December 2016 are maize flour, rice, sugar, vegetables and milk.

The Daily Nation did an assessment of prices of basic goods in supermarkets around Nairobi’s central business district and found two kilos of maize meal selling at between Sh142 and Sh187 depending on brand and the supermarket from which one buys.

“The price of the same amount of maize flour has increased from below Sh110 for the cheaper brands and Sh127 in January,” said Patrick Mwendwa a supermarket attendant at one of the major retail stores in the city.

“In January, Hostess, the priciest brand we stock was selling at Sh127 now we’re selling it at Sh172. The other brands were at between Sh108 and Sh110, now Jogoo is at Sh143, Pembe is at Sh144 and Ndovu is at Sh146,” he added.

According to Mwendwa a kilo of sugar too had gone up by about Sh25 from Sh110 at the end of last year to Sh145 , milk had gone up by at least Sh4 from Sh44 to Sh48, bathing soap by Sh10 and rice by Sh35 from Sh75 to Sh110 per kilo of local rice.

“I am a consumer too so watching these increases in price have been nerve-racking,” he said.

But the cost of fuel has also been rising gradually, further compounding the problem for weary ordinary citizens.

Rising prices have forced Kenyans living on the lower income brackets to pay more for the same goods and services than they did about three months ago.

Pamela Achieng 36-year-old stay at home mother of two children in Kibera estate says inflation has forced her household to accept more and more sacrifices, compromises and budget-juggling.

“I do not buy my flour from the shop because I cannot afford it. I get my unga from the local maize miller in the estate. But the 2kilogram tin of maize that we bought at Sh100 in January is now selling at Sh125. And, this just shot from Sh120 in February.”

“Sukumawiki too, may not have been increased in price, but it has reduced in quantity and for the same amount of money you get much less leaves in a bunch,” she says and is quick to add, “Things were already bad but we feel life is becoming harder. Balancing expenses has become much more difficult because it is not every day that I get work.”

What she used to buy for Sh1000, is now costing her and her husband, a construction site labourer who earns Sh1500 in a day’s work, about Sh600 more.

“It has become hard to plan for money,” she says, “every other day you go the shop and something is at a much higher cost than it did previously”. 

In trying to stretch every shilling, she says, “We have had to cut back on some of the things that are not really an essential, like sugar and sometimes we do without milk and things like tomatoes in our vegetables to make ends meet. Eating healthy is becoming much more difficult.”

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