Farmers complain over influx of cheap Tanzania produce at border market

Farmers in Taita-Taveta want the government to regulate the influx of goods from Tanzania, which they say have denied them market for their produce.

The farmers decried the unhealthy competition caused by the influx, saying the flood of cheap Tanzanian goods has resulted in poor prices for local produce.

At the Taveta market, near the Kenya-Tanzania border, bananas, tomatoes, onions among other farm produce from Tanzania are sold at a cheaper price, the farmers said, making traders to prefer buying them.

Ms Violet Meriki, a banana and onion farmer, said they are forced to sell their yields at throw-away prices to avoid wastage.

“At times we sell a bunch of banana for Sh30 because supply is more than the demand. We opt to do so because it is better to get a little money than nothing at all,” she said.

She said farmers are suffering silently due to the huge losses they make since they sink more money paying workers who cultivate and harvest the crops.

She said they also spent a lot of money in buying fertiliser and chemicals for pest control.

In high season, a bunch of banana is sold at between Sh300 to Sh400, but the prices always fluctuate depending on the time of the month and the market demand.

Little profit

Rodgers Mwadime, a banana farmer who grows the crop on more than 10 acres, said he hardly gets any profit since he is forced to sell the produce at a cheaper price to avoid double loss.

“Bananas and tomatoes are perishable. You cannot store them for a longer time. Their demands in the market is also low due to influx of goods from Tanzania , unless you transport it to Kongowea market (in neighbouring Mombasa County), which is a very expensive venture ,” he said.

The farmers now want the national and the county government to intervene so that they can get profits from their produce.

The farmers said Tanzanians should be charged more cess to regulate the flow of farm produce and create a trade balance between the two countries.

Ms Ann Nzuki, a trader at the newly built Taveta market, says traders prefer onions and other farm produce from the neighbouring country because they are economical and resistant to disease.

“They (goods) do not go bad easily as compared with the ones from our local farms. That is why most of us prefer imported goods from Tanzania,” she said.

Currency differences

She said traders make more profit when they import the goods because they trade in different currencies, which make it favourable for Kenyan traders.

Kenyan traders, however, complained of restrictions hindering free cross-border trade between the two countries.

They complained of harassment, double taxation and trade barriers hampering movement of goods and services across the border.

Contacted, the county’s trade and community Affairs executive Flora Mtuweta said she was “in a meeting” and was not immediately able to give a response.

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