Horticulture farmers in Mt Elgon constituency have decried challenges facing them in marketing their farm produce.
The region is considered the main bread basket for Bungoma County and the entire Western.
However, the committed farmers who produce perishable farm produce in large quantities like potatoes, tomatoes, onions, cabbages and other fresh produce have decried being fleeced by middle men.
Speaking to Bungomaonline.co.ke on February 21, 2020, a Mt Elgon political activist cum a farmer Amos Chemabus stated that the middle men had capitalised on lack of market to fleece them.
“We are good farmers, we feed the entire Western region and the country however our main problem is that we are always making loses whereas the middle men make a kill from our sweat,” said Chemabus.
He observed that lack of proper marketing strategy had led Mt Elgon farmers yo fall victim to business people from bigger towns who buy their produce at a throw away price leaving farmers staring at losses.
He said that despite the good production of horticultural crops on the slopes of Mt. Elgon marketing of the produce is a great challenge.
“Tomatoe farmers in Cheptais sub county for instance sell their produce at a throwaway price, nowadays they have abandoned weighing machines and opted to these crates commonly known as Kimbo, at a worst market price the 100kg Kimbo crate can go at only Sh3000 Which is a great lose to our farmers,” he decried.
Chemabus continued, “As the community let us get an alternative way of selling our produce so that farmers in the region can be proud of their sweat,”.
The activist at the same time called on the county and national government to construct for them cooling stores in Cheptais, Kopsiro, Kapsokwony and Kaptama so that they are able to preserve their produce as they wait for a better price.
“We can’t continue being victims of fleecing by a few middle men who are making huge profits at the expense of our efforts, even during the harvesting cereals including maize and beans we always fall victims of the same cartel,” stated the activist.
He asked the government to have a proper marketing strategy for horticulture crops that are easily perishable to save the farmers from making losses something that can easily discourage them from carrying on with farming.
His sentiments were echoed by a Chemondi village farmer Daniel Ndiwa who noted that he has suffered a lot at the hands of the middle men who have taken advantage of the terrain fleece him through through buying his farm produce at a low price compared to the cost of production.
“Let us form community based organizations (CBO’s) that will help us do a market research before our crops are ready for sell so that we can recoup back our profit, we are tired of middle men conning us,” he said