Dar es Salaam — Prolonged drought, high temperatures and insufficient water in big rivers in and around Coast Region have affected okra production, farmers have said.
Speaking to The Citizen, Mr Mbaraka Mandai, a farmer in Ikwiriri in Rufiji District said currently there is high temperature which causes shortage of water in River Rufiji for irrigating the crop.
He said, "We mainly depend on this river for irrigation, but high temperatures cause high water evaporation and only farms near the river can now access water".
Mr Mandai noted that okra supply at the Ikwiriri food market has also shrunk to large extent, with only few bags being delivered on the daily basis.
"We used to transport between 20 and 30 bags daily but nowadays we only sent between five and ten bags," he lamented.
The wholesale price for the crop has increased to between Sh50,000 and Sh60,000 from previously Sh20,000 and Sh30,000.
Kariakoo market data shows wholesale price for a 50-kilo bag of okra jumped four times from between Sh25,000 and Sh30,000 in January to between Sh100,000 and Sh120,000 recorded late February.
Kariakoo Market Corporation's Planning and Statistical officer Henry Rejuna said limited supply of okra is mainly caused by low delivery of the commodity from many sources.
"A large per cent of okra supplied in Dar es Salaam originates from Coast Region, maily Ruvu, Rufiji, Bagamoyo and Ikwiriri," he said.
He said since most of the farmers are on irrigation farming, so the shortage of water automatically affects the overall production of the crop consumed by both rural and urban dwellers.