By Nsunjo Erica
Farmers are feeling the heat accompanied by losses as they continuously keep seeing their produce rot in fields due to disrupts in the supply chains that have caused a decline in demand following COVID-19 closures.
Closures are impacting all areas of agriculture. Some producers have tried to pivot to supplying ordinary shoppers, but changing market demand and the excess stock remains a problem across the sector.
Billions of dollars worth of food are going to waste as growers and producers from all around the continent are facing a massive surplus of highly perishable items that can no longer be exported for the meantime.
Roughly half the food grown by some farmers was previously destined for restaurants, schools, stadiums, theme parks, and cruise ships however with the restrictions imposed on these businesses, farmers are feeling the losses.
Food that could have been exported to different neighboring countries is now flooded on local markets, however, households cannot buy the whole of it regardless of the deeply reduced prices, a lot of this food is rotting.
Agriculture officials insist that the supply itself is not in question, but matching that supply with demand and getting it to where it’s needed most is a new and urgent problem.
According to analysts, the supply chain is missing a crucial link, bridging the gap between food that would be wasted and a growing need in food banks nationwide, however, the impacts of the COVID-19 virus have made exportation and importation impossible.
Many growers are already dealing with huge losses in sales and aren’t able to further eat the cost of harvesting, packing, and transporting crops to needy food banks without any financial aid.
Analysis are therefore urging the Department of Agriculture to buy the surplus produce so it could be donated to people in need without further hurting farm finances.
In Kenya, tomato prices in most parts of the country dropped by more than 70 percent as a result of oversupply in the market. The drop in prices came as a reprieve to the majority of Kenyans after days of higher prices.
The same goes for onions, red Irish, and vegetables, farmers are flooding local markets with a lot of these local foods aiming at sales to local households. The surplus cannot be consumed by merely local households therefore, losses are inevitable.
Still in Kenya, A 90-kilogram bag of dry maize is retailing at an average of 2,700 and 2,800 shillings in most parts of the country including Nairobi down from 3,600 shillings last month. The dropping of the prices has been attributed to more maize on the market since exportation is limited.