Cucumber price trends!

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Cucumber is one of the fairly-warm-climate crops which cannot withstand water logging requiring only 500mm of annual rainfall to grow. It’s an easy to grow kind of crop which you can introduce into your backyard and also fast growing taking 2 to 2 ½ months to fully mature and be harvested. They are grown for their immature fruit and can be categorized into four types based on their fruit length. This four types include Long cucumbers (over 30 cm), Midi cucumbers (18 -24 cm), Mini cucumbers (15 -19 cm) and Cocktail cucumbers (Less than 15 cm). 


As we entered the last quarter of the year, cucumber farmers had a reason to smile because the prices of these cucumbers in majority of towns were on an upward trend. By the end of first half of last month (approximately 3 weeks ago), prices from Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret and Nakuru were averaging at Kes 60 per kg. Since then, average prices from these five towns have fallen by 14% to currently average at Kes 52 per kilo. Nakuru recorded the biggest fall after cucumber from this town dropped from KES 100 to KES 50, a 50% price decline. It was followed by Eldoret and Mombasa with 27% and 26% price drop respectively. 


In those last 3 weeks, Nairobi and Kisumu prices have been fluctuating along leveled prices of KES 49 and KES 62 respectively. Compared to the other three towns, Nairobi and Kisumu had the most stable prices with their price volatility (given by variation coefficient) being as low as 4% and 3% respectively. Nakuru recorded the least stable prices with a variation coefficient of 24% with Mombasa and Eldoret recording 17% and 13% variation coefficients respectively. 


Majority of the cucumbers found in Nairobi market are sourced from areas around Murang’a and Thika. Farmers in this location are now harvesting and this is set to continue until early January 2015. In Eldoret, cucumbers are being sourced from burnt forest and are being reported to have flooded the market. The same case applies to the Mombasa market where supply has shifted from Kamba land (Around Kibwezi) and Taveta to Shimba hills. Cucumbers from Shimba hills are said to be of low quality and this factor leads to further decline in cucumber prices in this region. In Kisumu, majority of the cucumbers are sourced from Bomet and Busia and their supply opened up a few weeks ago. 


By mid January 2015, most of these cucumbers will be out of the market hence prices will be higher. However, unlike other short season crops such as tomatoes and capsicums among others, demand for cucumbers is not well established hence the unattractive returns even during peak pricing.


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