The high cost of transport during the COVID-19 pandemic has made matters worse for banana farmers following prolonged closure of open-air markets.
The closure of major markets in the county has forced most banana sellers to move to roadsides; selling their goods under a challenging business environment.
There are more than 15 stops along the Kisii-Keroka highway where locals have been selling their banana produce under the scorching sun and sometimes under the rains.
Small scale businesswomen selling bananas at the famous Keumbu market have been forced to do their business under such conditions.
The roadside business seems to be gaining attraction because most traders here are women who want instant cash to feed their families.
Tabitha Mokeira, 48 has been selling bananas at the Nyosia bus stop for the last 12 years. It is through her business that she educated her two sons through to college.
“It is tough, sometimes we close early because of the rains. In a day I can sell five bunches of bananas. The challenge is that I have to spend a lot of money transporting the unsold bananas back home.”
She says their greatest challenge is lack of storage for the extra bunches. “We can’t leave them at the roadside. We are not assured that this place is safer.”
For Mary Kemuma, a provision of a safe place to store their produce could save them the extra cost incurred in transporting the goodies back home every evening.
However, youthful businessman cum politician Okengo Nyambane says he will erect shades at every bus stop along the Kisii- Keroka main road to support women who have opted to sell bananas.
“I want to compliment government efforts in promoting banana farming. There are government plans to put up a banana cold room but my efforts are to support those who are doing the business on a small scale.”
Okeng’o says most traders have been subjected to extreme weather conditions.
By Frank Akunga