Beans shortage looms as Ethiopia imports dry up

Beans shortage looms as Ethiopia imports dry up

Workers thresh beans after harvest on a farm in Elburgon, Nakuru County on February 3, 2021. PHOTO | JOHN NJOROGE | NMG

(Businessdailyafrica)—Kenya’s beans imports have been hit after Ethiopia, which supplies the country with significant volumes, signed an export agreement with Pakistan that has reduced the stock coming into Kenya.

Kenya, which is a beans-deficit country, relies on Ethiopia for kidney beans. However, Ethiopia and Pakistan entered into an agreement last year March for Addis to supply value added beans to the Asian country.

This has seen Kenya locked out of imports from Ethiopia, with no beans crossing at the Moyale border in recent months, according to the crops agency.

“There have been no beans crossing to Kenya from Ethiopia because of the agreement that Addis Ababa entered into with Pakistan,” said an official from the Kenya Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis).

Data from Kephis indicate the volumes of beans that crossed through the Moyale border dropped to 1.4 million kilogrammes in March last year from a high of eight million kilos in August 2019.

Kenya is expected to record poor harvest of beans this year as the crop has been hit by lack of rain, with 50 percent of the produce having been lost due to moisture stress.

“The effects on beans is devastating. The crop has been placed under watch in terms of early warning because of poor rains,” said Mary Nzomo, county executive member for Agriculture in Trans Nzoia, one of the main bean producing areas of Kenya.

The county has indicated that its yields will drop by 20 percent in this year’s main season that starts in October.

Officials from the Directorate of Horticulture also disclosed that there has been minimal movement of other foods from Ethiopia into Kenya, including tomatoes and onions.

“There has been a decline on tomatoes and onions from Ethiopia in the last week, this could be the effect of elections that were held last week…we are waiting to see if things will return back to normal,” said the directorate.

The directorate, which also confirmed that beans are not coming from Ethiopia, was on a fact-finding mission to the border last week.