Pineapple farmers decry lack of market following increased dumping in Gatundu
By Wanja Waweru
Pineapple growers in various areas of Gatundu North and South constituencies in Kiambu county lamented their inability to secure a market for their abundant crop, after a cheaper supply of pineapples flooded the market.
Most pineapples, according to farmers, are left to rot in gardens because brokers and other buyers have ceased doing business with them as a result of dumping.
In Machakos and Kiambu Counties, where Gatundu farmers have been selling their produce, it is rumored that stolen pineapples from some of the large-scale producers are sold at throwaway rates, leaving them without markets to sell the fruits.
The farmers, led by Mwala Mara, bemoaned the sharp drop in pineapple prices that has harmed them and occasionally forced them to sell their produce below cost.
“The people who used to buy from us have stopped. The market is flooded with stolen pineapples which are giving us unfair competition. We are now selling locally at very low prices but most of the fruits are ending up rotting on the farm,” Mara said.
Out of desperation to find alternative markets, the farmers decried that unscrupulous businesspersons have taken advantage of the situation to buy the expensive fruits cheaply.
Another farmer, James Kavaiku, expressed regret that brokers who have been purchasing from them are quitting the industry because they too were unable to secure better markets for the produce.
The producers disclosed that they used to charge Ksh50 for one pineapple fruit, a price that has since dropped significantly.
Farmers urged the government to assist them in locating better domestic and international markets for their products through the trade and agriculture departments.
“We are not making any profits anymore. Our fruits are rotting in the farm and this unfair competition brought about by thieves is killing our business. It’s time the government helps us get a solution to this,” Kavaiku said.