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Shortage of bulb onions hits West Pokot markets

Shortage of bulb onions hits West Pokot markets

Kapenguria,

Monday, March 18, 2024

KNA by Richard Muhambe

Regular consumers of bulb onions also known as red onions in West Pokot County have been forced to dig deeper into their pockets owing to the unprecedented increase of the prices of the commodity occasioned by decrease supply in the local markets.

A single bulb is retailing at Sh10, a quantity that has never been part of the minimum packaging standards before the shortage that has hit the market.

The situation has affected food vendors that rely on the commodity to make vegetable salads preferred by fast foods’ consumers with households also bearing the brunt as the price of the commodity continues to soar.

For a long while, West Pokot County has been known for being one of the huge suppliers of fresh red onions grown on both small and large scale in the slopes and valleys of Ortum areas in Kipkomo Sub County.

Mercy Cheruto, a grocer at Makutano market in Kapenguria Municipality told KNA that the vegetable has become scarce unlike before when suppliers used to visit the market and plead with them to buy the produce fresh from the farmers.

Cheruto explained that though the consumption had increased owing to the expansion of the town, the supply has remained low despite the onion farming still being vibrant in the region.

“It is believed that traders from other regions across the country have realised the presence of the best quality onions from this county and are making steady visits to farmers to get the commodity at cheaper prices. This has left the local traders in limbo with very little to supply,” stated Ms Cheruto.

She said that to keep her grocery with a similar alternative spice; she has resorted to stocking green onions which are currently in abundance, although apprehensive due to their high perishability.

Cheruto added that those who purchased the green onions were now individuals for their domestic consumption but majorly hotel owners who were afraid of cutting short their profits.

“We used to get huge orders from hotels but with the scarcity and the increased prices where unlike before when we used to measure in terms of kilograms, the hoteliers have resorted to green onions to maintain their returns,” she observed.

Mercy Nekesa, a grocer at Chepareria Market, said she wrote red onions off her grocery stock because they were now quite elusive to source and her customers may not consent to any price hikes.

Nekesa said that since the shifts in supply of the commodity around two months ago, she opted out of the stocking of the red onions replacing it with green ones despite their high perishability.

“My recipe for different meals are never free of any onions, I have resorted to the green and they are equally palatable. However, getting very fresh ones is a challenge because they don’t sell as fast because of the low demand,” said one Ms. Priscillah Mnang’at.

Ms. Mnang’at noted that with the shrinking supply of the red onions which were demanding in terms of production, it was high time she started her own kitchen garden to enhance her daily dietary needs.

“Green onions are easy to establish and manage because of the easy availability of propagation materials. With worn out items such as plastic containers and other waste materials, one can produce enough for their daily subsistence since every part of the vegetable is edible,” she explained.

She challenged that with a small garden, one could produce enough for their own use and even afford surplus for the local markets.Onions are members of the Allium genus of flowering plants which also include garlic, shallots and leeks.

They are highly nutritious vegetables that may have several benefits including improved heart health, better blood sugar regulation, and increased bone density.

They are also considered delicious, versatile and relatively cheap and boast a range of healthy vitamins, minerals and plant compounds necessary for the human body.

According to some sources, athletes in Ancient Greece supposedly used onions to purify their blood, while traditional and medieval doctors prescribed them to help treat headaches, heart diseases and mouth sores.

Courtesy; KNA

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