The diplomatic war over Covid-19 policies between Kenya and Tanzania has led to a massive shortage of onions in Kenya leading to a sharp rise in prices by over 90 percent.
In Nairobi, a kilogram of onions spiked from 85 shillings last month to between 185 and 200 shillings with traders saying there are no onions coming in from Tanzania.
Those selling the onions on retail have increased the price by more than 200 percent. Four small onions that used to go for 20 shillings are now going for 15 shillings each, meaning the four are going for 60 shillings.
A sizeable onion that used to go for 10 shillings is now going for between 20 and 30 shillings in most parts of Nairobi. Within Nairobi, the price of onions is highest in Eastleigh, where the government has imposed cessation of movement in and out of the place.
In Nyeri town, a kilogram of onion has increased by 86 percent, from 80 shillings last month to 150 shillings. The same is being experienced in Nakuru, Eldoret, and Naivasha.
Most onions in Kenya come from Tanzania and customers prefer them due to their large size and attractiveness. Things started going South when President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the closure of the border between Kenya and Tanzania for people apart from trucks ferrying cargo to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
After Uhuru Kenyatta made the announcement, President John Pombe Magufuli became furious and completely locked down the border and denied entry into Tanzania anything from Kenya. The unwise move from Magufuli, however, seemed to be hurting Tanzanians more than Kenyans.
Uhuru Kenyatta and Magufuli had a chat on Wednesday and have agreed to have the borders resume operations. The move is likely to see a drop in the prices of onions in the next two weeks.
Residents of Kitale and Bungoma are enjoying low prices on onions. Most onions in these places come from Mt. Elgon and some from neighboring Uganda.