Our fresh produce farmers need protection from cartels

Open Letter to CS Munya. Governor Joho & Major Badi

Early this week I posted my usual piece on my FB. I came across loads of feedback . I use FB to gauge the mood of the people on any topic and I decided to focus reports that price of onions have doubled even tripled because TZ was our key source . Since the border closure for passengers by Kenya , then TZ decided that even cargo won’t be allowed and suddenly the impact of lack of some farm produce including onions was felt as far as farm rich zones like Nyeri and Embu.

Our hard-working farmers are asking for protection from cartels NOT handouts .Farming is sheer hardwork, I was brought up on a farm so I know what it means . CS Munya you reined your guns on the cartels in the tea & maize industry please we need you to turn those guns to cartels who frustrate fresh produce farmers who are now choosing to abandon farming all together

In Mombasa I took time to speak to traders at Kongowea market and the stuff I was told shocked me it was even worse at Wakulima market in Nbi where cartels call the shots .

While farm inputs in Kenya are taxed like there is no tommorow Uganda and TZ is the opposite . We cannot tax ourselves to prosperity and that is one basic economic lesson that our govemrnet must understand. A time will come when there is no one to tax.

As a farmer you may have overcome all the hurdles only to be confronted by bloody cartels at Kongowea and even bigger mafia at Wakulima market .

Two of the chaps who supply hotels told me how each produce has its own bunch of gangs. There is a specific cartel for tomatoes , potatoes , cabbages etc
He said despite trading at Kongowea for the past 30 years he cannot bring a lorry of tomatoes from his farm from up country without a clearance from the cartels . If you dare do that ” Utakula tomato yako”.

Surely are we wartorn country ? We allow thugs to control the supply chain ? They wait at the tail end to take the cream . Our county inspectorate and askaris will pounce on you on flimsy grounds but allow thugs to rule the fresh produce market . A policeman will be ruthless when they find a Kenyan on street rushing to get home to beat the curfew timings . Where are they when it comes to this ? How can we brag to be a land of rule of law ?

My contact told me how a cartel member will walk into Kongowea with Ksh100 Bob but walk out with Ksh20,000 because they also steal openly from the traders . He recalls a female relative who brought 3000 cabbages but she could not account for 600 pcs and she was left holding less revenue compared to what she had invested . She cried all evening and she never came back to Kongowea. These thugs roam the markets and will angle for a fight if you don’t play ball and they love chaos and half of your delivery will disappear into thin air. The traders find it safer to pay them for “protection” . This should NEVER have been allowed to happen in the first place.

To my President , let’s not aim for bigger things in our Agenda 4 Agriculture when we cannot even protect our hard working fresh produce farmers.

My contact says it’s Pain Pain Pain . Many young farmers have decided never again and that is the reason we are left at the mercy of TZ and UG supplies.

We have failed our farmers . They are not asking for free handouts . They are only asking for protection from these leeches .

I leave you with this quote ” Once in life you need a doctor , lawyer , a policeman or a preacher but everyday , three times a day you need a farmer”

Please join me to applaud our farmers and it’s about time we protect them from these cartels .

As always I choose to remain an optimist

Mohammed Hersi

2 responses to “Our fresh produce farmers need protection from cartels”

  1. Article is spot on. Please see what we’re attempting to do with https://wakulima.market


  2. Abdinoor Maalim avatar
    Abdinoor Maalim

    Hello mohammed,
    I hope you & your loved ones are safe.
    I read your piece on farmers and I was intrigued to inform you about a petition on harmful pesticides(I’ll share the links shortly) that are imported, and it’s causing most diseases that we’ve witnessed in the recent years. If nothing is done then it will mean that no one will be safe regardless of who you are, as long as you’re eating food cooked in Kenya. So I humbly request you to amplify the voice of this Kenyans and if possible share with your Network.

    Thank you,
    Your concerned compatriot.


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