Structure conduct and performance of transport of fruit and vegetables in Kenya
It is known that provision of fruit and vegetables is of fundamental necessity to human nutrition, and lack of these commodities bee use of prohibitive high transport charges can have severe consequence in human health, especially in urban centres, where the population depends on imported food from rural areas. Information on the present structure, conduct and performance of transportation system, is somewhat limited. rThere is therefore a need to get detail information as regards, number of vehicles, type, capacity, of vehicles involved, and prices ruling in the markets, so as to determine what factors affect the market prices, for both transport and commodities. This report is based on the information collected from deficit and surplus areas. The report gives the result of study conducted in Nyandarua, Kiambu, Tai.ta-Taveta districts and Nairobi and Mombasa markets. A random sample of 114 drawn from all market participants and informed government officials were interviewed. The major objectives of the study are: (a) To investigate the mode of transport used by producers and traders, (b) To investigate the truckers behaviour, (c) To investigate the relationship between distance covered, transport charges, capacity of vehicles, and price paid to farmers, (d) To investigate what percentage share transfer charges take of the wholesale prices, (e) To investigate the major variables affecting farmgate and wholesale prices. Arising from the above objectives the following major hypotheses were tested - (i) That the farmers and traders Hear the market use simple transfer methods to ship produce to the market, (ii) That there is a relationship between capa city of vehicle and scale of business, type of produce and the length of haulage, (iii) That the transfer arrangements affect transport costs. (iv) That transport charges a're directly related to the actual costs and therefore inflexible. (v) That transfer costs are charged per unit weight: this means products with high value per unit (for instance tomatoes) are less affected by long distance transport than low valued products such as cabbages. Many types of vehicles of varying capacities are involved in the transfer of fruit and vegetables. Smaller vehicles ranging from 1 - 2.5 tons operate near the market. But larger vehicles operate further afield. A large number of participants trade in fruit and vegetables, and hence the market is competitive, as there is no monopoly as regards the business. Calculations based on owned vehicles and hired vehicles indicate that whether one hires a vehicle or owns it, there is no cost advantage. The testing of hypotheses indicates, that both farmgate and wholesale prices are affected mainly by the distance covered, and the percentage share taken by the transfer charges increases with increasing distance. Also if the produce is of high value, the transfer charges take a smaller percentage of wholesale price. It is therefore important to grow crops of raw value near the market and crops of high value further afield,unless this rule is offset by . problems of perishability.