By Moses Kigongo
Uganda tomato farmers are in financial distress arising from the arrival of huge stocks of cheaper tomatoes from Kenya, leading to a slump in market prices.
The price of a well-packed box has declined to sh200,000 in the first week of April from sh500,000.
With the decline in prices, tomato farmers and wholesale traders have started counting losses and they are appealing to the Ugandan government to stop Kenyan traders from bringing their tomatoes into the country.
“We are sitting for long hours without seeing customers since they are getting cheap high-quality tomatoes from Kenyan traders hence affecting demand and supply chains,” said Ibrahim Mugerwa, one of the tomato farmers from Butambala district, who was found stranded with his stock at St. Balikuddembe market.
He noted that Kenyan traders are bringing cheaper high-quality tomatoes in the same markets like Nakasero, Owino, Kalerwe, Kasubi, Nakawa among others, where Ugandan farmers are also selling their tomatoes which has caused them losses.
His take was supported by his colleagues led by Annet Namusoke and John Kalema, who also asked the government to stop their Kenyan counterparts from pouring their stock into the Ugandan markets, saying this has deprived them of the earlier anticipated profits.
It may be noted that the Kenyan government subsidized farm in-puts like fertilizers to enable their farmers to do their businesses at relatively lower costs.
This and many other factors have caused Kenyan farmers to export cheaper tomatoes into the country.
Reports indicate that the bulk of the mangoes that are traded in Uganda are also imported from Kenya.
It is important to note that whereas some of the countries in the region limit the entry of certain goods from neighbouring countries to protect their local producers, the East African Community (EAC) trade protocols/agreements member countries signed created the region as one market where there should be free movement of goods and services.