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Masafi fruits new products - 2014-01-13

Banana is the most consumed fruit while tomato leads among vegetables.
Sukuma wiki loses magic to cabbage

Sukuma Wiki has lost its place to cabbages as the most popular leaf vegetable in Kenya. This is according to the latest research on consumption of fruits and vegetables in Kenya, which also established bananas are the most consumed fruit in the country. The 10-month study was carried out by research firm TNS RMS East Africa and sponsored by Usaid. It revealed that small scale vendors (Mama Mboga) control 97 per cent of the highly profitable fruit and vegetable business.

They make high profit margins ranging between 20 per cent to 35 per cent. “It’s a highly profitable business because manufactured goods trade at lower margins than 25 per cent,” said Anna Mutahi, a TNS director. Supermarkets only control three per cent of the sales, mainly because of supply problems. Mutahi said although more cabbages are sold, sukuma wiki (kale) traders have higher profit margins.

The cabbage market is valued at Sh14.5 billion annually, according to the study. The report was released during the annual workshop on application of commercial quality standards for fruits and vegetables at the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) last week. Kephis Managing Director Dr James Onsando said the report reveals the potential of the domestic horticultural market. “The report helps investors make decision on where to invest depending on the market,” he said. Nairobi-based nutritionist Newton Njeru says cabbages are an important part of any meal. They are richer in vitamin C than the famous oranges. “They are also rich in fibre, sulphur to fight infection in wounds and iodine, which helps in brain functioning,” he says.

Widely used to make food stew across the country, sukuma wiki are also good sources of vitamin C and soluble fibre, and contain multiple nutrients with potent anticancer properties. They are easily grown around homesteads across the country, unlike cabbages which require longer periods and more care in the farms. Overall, the two pale in popularity when compared with other forms of vegetables. The report says tomatoes are the most consumed vegetables in Kenya.

The second most used vegetable are potatoes, followed by cabbages, then sukuma wiki, sweet potatoes and green maize respectfully. Tomatoes and potatoes are considered vegetables based on the popular definition that classifies vegetables by use - that they are generally served with dinner and hot dessert. Tomatoes have lower profit margins than both cabbages and Sukuma Wiki. The TNS study says tomato business was worth Sh39.46 billion last year, with about 611.4 tonnes traded. The same year, the potato market was valued at Sh27.6 billion,

On fruits, Kenyans consume more bananas (both green and ripe) than any other fruit. The study says last year they consumed bananas worth Sh30 billion. Ripe bananas are the most consumed fruit everywhere except Western Kenya where the green ones lead. With the hectic Kenyan life, it is no wonder ripe bananas are most popular fruit. Scientists say they can provide enough energy to work all day long. “They give the body immediate energy supply, because they have a sufficient amount of sugar and glucose,” says Njeru.

Banana also has vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin B6. Vitamin C helps to retain Iron in the body and enhances the blood formation system. They are also rich in potassium which helps the growth of body muscles. The second biggest fruit in Kenya is mango but it is seasonal. Passion fruits come third. The research says distribution of fruits across the country is “pathetic,” but at least 64 per cent of all stalls sell ripe bananas. For traders and farmers, passion fruits probably present the best business opportunity. Their price has doubled in the last ten months, mainly due to scarcity.

Traders said their biggest problem is price fluctuations due to seasonality and lack of market information among them. 24 per cent also cited lack of storage facilities and poor security at night. The other problem was transportation from farm gate and in towns due to poor feeder roads. Mutahi said the traders would need skills on grading to help price differentiation by quality. “Bulk purchase hides good and bad at same price and sorting is the duty of the trader,” she said. They also need training on produce handling for perishable or delicate fruits and vegetables, the report says. Agriculture Secretary Dr Wilson Songa says the findings will strengthen the fruits and vegetables market in Kenya.

“Use of market information systems assists farmers to make informed selling choices,” he said at the Kephis conference, attended by participants from 10 countries. Dr Onsando said their focus now is to promote exports, which were worth Sh93.5 billion last year. He says last month Kephis received clearance from the United States to export snow peas and French beans.

- See more at: The Star

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