Economic Disruption in Kenyan business markets as demand for Chinese products falls amid Covid-19 Pandemic. Local preference rises but the lockdown is affecting traders. James Smat explores what this means through a series of interviews.
There’s somewhat an evolving picture of the ECONOMIC DISRUPTION in lives, businesses, and way of life caused by COVID-19. In KENYA, the food-chain is going through a METAMOPHOSIS, the CHANGES brought about by the PANDEMIC could be long lasting to the MARKETS OF NAIROBI.Economic Disruption in Kenyan business markets as demand for Chinese products falls amid Covid-19 Pandemic. Click To Tweet
Local produce preference rises but lockdown affects traders.
It’s been a record low FOUR weeks on sales of CHINESE fish in the markets. Traders say customers are SCARED of the fish and they are preferring fish from LAKE VICTORIA, in its absence, fish farms from KENYA.It's been a record low FOUR weeks on sales of CHINESE fish in the markets. Traders say customers are SCARED of the fish and they are preferring fish from LAKE VICTORIA, in its absence, fish farms from KENYA. Click To Tweet
“Before coronavirus, our customers really didn’t care about where the fish came from. Fish from CHINA is cheap and easy to get compared to others.”
41-year-old Nancy Adhiambo says the fear is that people think “corona is in the fish” so they are facing way too many questions about the source of where the fish came from, as a result, we ‘give customers what they want,’ she says.
How the coronavirus outbreak is affecting the global economy | Counting the Cost
New Preference of Local Fish instead of Cheap Fish from China
“60% of my sales used to be CHINESE fish, I have been in this business for years and I have never seen anything like this where Kenyans are very particular about their fish” she is sourcing for new sources of fish she says.
According to FACT-CHECK Tilapia and frozen mackerel makes up 85% of Kenya’s 2016 fish imports, with 68% coming from China. In 2017 China remained Kenya’s top source of fish imports. Other fish product imports included tuna, Nile perch, sardines, fish feed, and fish waste.Before coronavirus, our customers really didn't care about where the fish came from. Fish from CHINA is cheap and easy to get compared to others. – Nancy Adhiambo Click To Tweet
With the CHINESE fish products in trouble over corona fears, loaders and other downstream workers in fish markets are trying to figure out how to change their entire business strategy to fit new realities.
“Nyagem” who fries fish at the Gikomba market says people staying away from the Chinese fish is taking away assured income and wonders if they can get support Kenya Government to make sure Kenya fishermen fill the gap that is being created.
Covid-19 Curfew affects fishing:
“Fishermen can’t do peaceful fishing even before corona, now with the curfew, it is very difficult asking them to bring more fish to satisfy new needs in the market”
Rosemary Awour- 42 “The silver lining here is that my competitors who are selling Chinese fish are out of business, they all closing down. This would be a good time for GOK to help local businesses and take care of its citizens, but you know they don’t know how to do that”
The fish markets of Gikomba have been tuned to facilitate the CHINESE fish, being the main product, loaders and other downstream facilitators of the fish business at the moment are adjusting to accommodate fish from NAIVASHA AND LAKE VICTORIA.
Away from fish business, the dusk to dawn curfew is introducing a strain in the other goods. Vegetable and fruit traders are recording losses as transportation of the goods from markets and farms becomes difficult by the day.Away from fish business, the dusk to dawn curfew is introducing a strain in the other goods. Vegetable and fruit traders are recording losses as transportation of the goods from markets and farms becomes difficult by the day. Click To Tweet
Traders Record losses as transportation of the goods becomes difficult
Simon Leyaya Mpukoya, 41 and a Cabbages Retailer “Before I would get to the market by 2am and by 10am I would have sold up all my stock for the day. But, now I only manage to sell Ksh. 4000 out of a stock worth Ksh 10,000 by evening.” Says Leyaya.
Cabbage retailers like Leyaya Mpukoya sell to small scale traders popularly known as “Mama Mboga” who have also been affected by the curfew as they now have to close shop by 7pm whereas before they would operate till around 10pm.Cabbage retailers like Leyaya Mpukoya sell to small scale traders popularly known as “Mama Mboga” who have also been affected by the curfew as they now have to close shop by 7pm whereas before they would operate till around 10pm. Click To Tweet
Faith Otieno, Tomatoes seller. “Before I could sell as much as 4 crates of tomatoes but now I can barely manage to sell two crates. This is because most of the hotels that used to buy in bulk from me have been shut down as one way of curbing the spread of the virus.”
“I do not even check my profit margins anymore, I just come to the market to sell just enough to maintain my customers and put food on the table.”
Eunice A. Otung says that before the corona tomatoes business was slowing down as the trade routes were briefly interrupted.
“I do not have anywhere to take my tomatoes as my mama mbogas who used to buy from me and sell till 10pm right now only buy in small quantities”“I do not have anywhere to take my tomatoes as my mama mbogas who used to buy from me and sell till 10pm right now only buy in small quantities" Click To Tweet
Oscar Ombati, Banana seller, 42. Before the curfew, the Muthurwa market used to operate on a 24-hour shift, but now activities at the market have been limited from 5am – 7pm. “I cant supervise offloading of my stock, I am always worried about my stock until I get here”
Mutuku Joseph, Onion seller, 40. “This curfew has robbed me, 7 hours of work as I used to get to the market by 3am and leave by 8pm. Now I get here by 6am and by 5pm, I have to start packing up and prepare to leave for home.“ Says Mutuku.
Photo credits #Kizito Gamba additional reporting: @AfricaTazama and #Felix omondi. As always REPORTING inside communities CONTINUES.
About the Author: James Smat
James Obuya Smart is a Kenyan Journalist and news anchor currently working for Kenya Television Network He has worked for other major networks like Capital FM Kenya and NTV (Kenya). He pioneered the popular show on NTV called ‘The Trend’. After he left NTV, Larry Madowo took over.
James Smart grew up in Korogocho Slums. He went to St Paul’s Lugari High School. He holds an MA in International Journalism from Cardiff University. James, initially worked as a sports journalist at Capital FM Kenya before moving to television as a news anchor and reporter at NTV (Kenya). He is now at KTN and he hosts a show alongside Dennis Onsarigo called News Sources.
James Smart On: Life in Cardiff City
Related Reading on Economic Disruption:
IMF and the World Bank held a news conference on the global response to the novel coronavirus outbreak and the virus’ impact on the global economy.
As the number of new cases drops abruptly in China, attention has shifted to South Korea, Italy and Iran, sites of major clusters of contagion that the World Health Organization said accounts for 80 per cent of new cases outside China.
IMF, World Bank discuss COVID-19 impacts on global economy
Coronavirus impact on China and Economic Disruption Further reading:
- Low-skilled workers, developing countries at risk
- Is China Now the Sole Superpower on Planet Earth?
- Global trade impact of the Coronavirus – UNCTAD
- If China’s economy crashes Australia will be hit hard
- What is your take on china wanting to take over Africa by investing heavily in it?
- Economic paralysis: Coronavirus slams brakes on China
- How China can rebuild global supply chain resilience
- china’S BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE: Will it have a positive impact on African countries?
- Economic Impacts of China’s Coronavirus Worse Than SARS
- Coronavirus: Economic disruption is just beginning
- Ivory Trade: What’s in it for china in the long-run?