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Why onion prices are high in Kenya!

Onions are one of the most commonly consumed ingredients in Kenyan households, adding flavour to a variety of dishes.

A spot check by Nairobi News shows that onion prices have increased significantly since last year.

Currently, a kilogramme fetches over Sh200 in most urban markets, while prices at the farm gate range from Sh140 to Sh180.

Ann Wambui, a farmer in Mai Mahiu, Naivasha, testifies to the gradual improvement in onion farming.

“Initially, a kilo could be bought for as little as Sh20 at farm level,” recalls Wambui.

Now she smiles with satisfaction as the price has never dipped below Sh100 per kilo in the past year.

Last week, the average farm-gate price was Sh140 per kilo.

The relief for farmers comes after the Kenyan government introduced new levies and taxes on imported commodities in 2023.

The move, which is part of the Kenya Kwanza regime’s agenda, also affects agricultural products.

In the 2023/2024 Budget Allocation read by Cabinet Secretary for Finance Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, President Ruto proposed an increase in the Export and Investment Promotion Levy on all imported goods to boost local production.

According to Dr Ruto, the levy would be set at ten per cent of the customs value of imported goods.

The introduction of this levy has benefited farmers, with onion growers now reaping handsome rewards.

“Now there is less influx of onions from our neighbouring countries. Before this, imported onions flooded the Kenyan market, resulting in lower prices,” explains Richard Omondi, founder of Agri-Irrigation and Solutions Africa Ltd.

Omondi’s company specialises in providing agricultural services across the horticultural spectrum, including consultancy, crop protection, farm planning and management.

With an acre yielding between 18 and 20 tonnes, Omondi estimates that at the current price of Sh140 per kilo, a farmer can potentially earn between Sh1.8 million and Sh2.5 million.

Onion farming is now being positioned as the next lucrative venture in Kenyan agriculture as the market continues to expand.

In most local vegetable stalls, known as mama mboga, a single bulb of onion now sells for at least Sh10.