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Micro Business Owners Outcry Over Market Disruptions at Daraja Mbili Market Due to Heavy Downpours

Micro Business Owners Outcry Over Market Disruptions at Daraja Mbili Market  Due to Heavy Downpours


Sunday, May 19th 2024

KNA by Linet Akinyi and Kevin Wanyama

In the heart of Kisii County, a region celebrated for its agricultural productivity, the bustling Daraja Mbili market has become a focal point of economic distress.

Heavy downpours have caused significant disruptions, leading to price fluctuations and scarcity of essential commodities, sparking outcry among micro business owners who are struggling to cope with the dual challenge of dwindling supplies and soaring demand.

Agness Nyaboke, a seasoned kales vendor with nearly two decades of experience at Daraja Mbili market, is among the affected traders.

Speaking to the Kenya News Agency (KNA), Nyaboke detailed the dire situation.

”The persistent heavy rains have wreaked havoc on kale crops, causing substantial physical damage and fostering conditions ideal for infections such as black spot, a disease precipitated by excessive moisture,” she said, adding that these adverse conditions have drastically reduced the availability of kales in the market.

Despite these challenges, Nyaboke has shown remarkable resilience and ingenuity in navigating the market’s instability.

With the reopening of schools, which constitute her primary customer base, the demand for kales has surged.

To meet this demand, Nyaboke has had to source her kales from Molo-Nakuru, a different county altogether.

This logistical adjustment has allowed her to continue her business, albeit at a higher cost. She sells a 50-kilogram bag of kales for Ksh 4,000, a price that ensures she maintains a profit margin.

Nyaboke expressed gratitude that her business remains viable, providing for all her needs, including her children’s education.

In stark contrast, Elizabeth Kemunto, a sardine (omena) vendor, has faced more severe challenges. Kemunto, who has been selling omena for the past decade, highlighted the severe impact of the heavy rains on her trade.

“The downpours have led to a significant shortage of omena, causing prices to skyrocket from Ksh 1,800 to Ksh 4,000 per 50-kilogram bag,” she stated noting that the flooding of Lake Victoria, a primary source of omena, has exacerbated the scarcity, forcing her to import her supplies from Tanzania.

“The increased transportation costs due to the long distances have added another layer of financial strain,” Kemunto laments.

Kemunto highlights the uncertainty of sales has placed her business at risk of incurring losses, and she fears eventual closure if conditions do not improve.

She revealed that her children had been sent home from school due to unpaid fees, underscoring the severe financial strain she is under.

Her only respite comes from self-help groups, which provide some financial and moral support during these challenging times. Tomato sellers at Daraja Mbili market are also grappling with the adverse effects of the heavy rains.

Violet Ogero, a tomato vendor with over a decade of experience, expressed her frustration over the difficulties of storing tomatoes during the rainy season.

Tomatoes, being highly perishable, are particularly vulnerable to spoilage in wet conditions.

Ogero called on the county government to implement measures to help mitigate losses during such times, highlighting the need for improved storage facilities and better infrastructure to support small traders.

The ongoing heavy downpours in Kisii County have not only disrupted the supply chain of essential commodities but have also brought to light the vulnerabilities faced by micro business owners.

The situation at Daraja Mbili market reflects a broader crisis affecting the region’s economy, as traders struggle to balance the scales of supply and demand amidst unprecedented weather conditions.

The local government’s response to these challenges will be critical in determining the future of these small businesses.

Effective intervention could involve the provision of subsidies, tax relief for small traders, and investment in better agricultural practices to mitigate the impact of adverse weather conditions.

Additionally, building more robust storage facilities and infrastructure improvements could provide long-term benefits, helping traders like Nyaboke, Kemunto, and Ogero to weather the storms that threaten their livelihoods.

Courtesy; KNA

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