Feb 7, 2023

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Exit ‘ugali saucer’ as price of unga in upward spiral

‘Ugali saucer’ is one of the many terms that define Kenya’s food kiosk lingo. It refers to an extra helping of ugali, which guests in budget hotels routinely request after plowing through half of a standard ugali meal. Guests reportedly demand the extra portion after realizing they have too much stew on their plate and not enough ugali to go with it. In reality, however, it is the idiosyncratic way of Kenyans to politely ask for more ugali at no extra cost.

The “Ugali saucer” culture is now threatening, with a bite Across the country, corn shortages have forced millers to raise the Unga price to levels most households can’t afford.

Some hoteliers have discontinued the “Ugali Saucers” tradition as part of cost-cutting efforts aimed at keeping their businesses afloat.

Ugali Saucer Suspended

“Please note that Ugali Saucer has been suspended pending further notice due to a biting maize shortage that has negatively impacted our operations,” read one of the grocery kiosks in Eldoret Town.

< p class="align--justify">The Nation complained that corn prices of 4,600Sh5,200 for a 90kg sack has risen to 5,200Sh.

“We have no choice but to ‘suspend ugali saucer’ because of the increased flour prices, to enable us to stay in the market,” said Ms. Susan Too, a hotelier in Kapsabet City, Nandi County.

Mullers have expressed concerns about further price increases if the supply crisis worsens.

“Consumers should brace themselves for higher prices as we have more difficulty sourcing corn to sustain our milling operations,” Mr. Kipngetich said Mutai from Ineet Posho Mills in Eldoret.

Acute shortage

Acute shortage of crops such as sorghum, millet, beans and potatoes has most parts of Eldoret hit in the western Kenya region, making the cost prohibitive for many families.

Prices of these cornmeal alternatives have also risen from Sh150 to Sh210 per 2kg pack at most retail outlets in the region.

“Low production caused by irregular Rainfall during the planting season has resulted in high demand for short-term crops, including beans and potatoes,” said Ms. Jane Jerotich of Moi’s Bridge, Uasin Gishu County.

Several millers in the western and central Kenya regions have shut down operations due to a biting maize shortage, setting the stage for mass job losses as flour prices soar and 3.5 million Kenyans face starvation.

Compulsory leave

At least 10 small and large milling companies have put part of their workforce on compulsory leave after the company shut down due to an acute maize shortages caused by a 4.3 percent drop in yields from 44.0 million bags in 2019 to 42.1 million bags last season.

The quality and supply of vegetables, onions and fruits to retail markets in Eldoret has also deteriorated as the crops have withered as a result of the drought.

None steady supply

“We no longer have a steady supply of vegetables and fruit and everything we receive is of poor quality. But still, most customers have criticized the increased prices,” said Ms Mary Too of Sosiani retail market.

Prices of fruit like oranges have more than doubled since Sh1. 800 to Sh4,200 while Spring Onions go from Sh1,400 to Sh2,200 as supply dwindles.

“Commodities like onions and fruits are now in my family due to their high prices as a luxury,” said Ms. Jane Chematia of Ainabtich, Uasin Gishu County.

Another sad development is that dairy farmers in the North Rift region are facing losses due to increased feed costs and other livestock-related products and services.

Milk prices

Milk prices have increased from Sh48 to Sh55 per pint. The price of fodder has also risen from Sh1,800 to Sh2,500 due to a drop in supply.

“Hay shortages as a result of the drought have pushed prices up Prices, with a bale, which used to sell for Sh100 was sold for Sh250. This has halved milk production,” said Mr. Julius Lagat from Saos in Nandi County.

There are an estimated 1.2 million dairy cows and between 400,000 and 500,000 heifers in the region .