Feature: Kenyan professionals convert vehicles into mobile stalls amid COVID-19 disruptions

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, June 19, 2020
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NAIROBI, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Maina Ng'ang'a, a high school teacher had been accustomed to driving down a familiar road to and from school for more than ten years, but with schools closed, his car is now parked beside the busy road with the boot open and loaded with crates of fresh produce.

Ng'ang'a has converted his car into a mobile stall, where he is selling a variety of farm produce on the busy outering road located on the eastern fringes of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. He sources his agricultural commodities from neighboring Uganda.

"I modified my car so that it is able to fit in large sacks of potatoes and cabbages, this new venture has been informed by the long hiatus in the education sector that is necessary for the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Ng'anga.

"Uganda became an ideal destination because its farmers offer reasonable prices for perishable goods. I commenced traveling to the country last month after making logistical arrangements," he added.

The veteran teacher is among many Kenyan professionals who have lost their familiar source of income due to the negative effects of the coronavirus.

A significant number of them have turned to hawking merchandise as an alternative source of income.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said in May that more than half a million Kenyans could lose their jobs in the next six months due to the adverse effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

Ng'ang'a said that he was convinced to pursue his current venture after observing a gap in the supply of vegetables occasioned by various factors among them the locust invasion that ravaged farm produce in Kenya.

According to food experts, Kenya could face a food crisis occasioned by the worst locust invasion ever witnessed in the country, a pandemic that has almost brought the country's economy to its knees and ongoing floods affecting crop harvest.

The World Bank says that COVID-19 pandemic in Africa has the potential to cause a food security crisis citing an agricultural production potentially contracting between 2.6 percent in an optimistic scenario and up to 7 percent if there are trade blockages.

The Kenyan government has continued to reaffirm its capacity to feed the 47 million citizens in these uncertain times.

"We have a general monitoring mechanism that will inform us on the food security in the country and we continue to monitor food staples that are consumed across the country to ensure we have stocks," said Peter Munya,

Agriculture cabinet secretary.

"There is nothing to worry in terms of food availability," he added during a recent webinar.

With the possible reopening of schools being slated for September, Ng'ang'a now mulls over the idea of owning a permanent stall where his repeat customers can easily access fresh produce.

Maggie Mutiso, a hotelier, has converted her four-wheel vehicle into a minimarket selling toilet papers, sanitizers and surface disinfectants similarly from the boot of her car in Nairobi's Hamza estate.

The mother of one said that her choice of merchandise was as a result of the increased demand for the items in the current pandemic crisis.

"The sanitizers are in brisk sales because people want to maintain hygiene as a way of warding off the highly contagious virus, "said Mutiso.

She said that the pandemic forced her employer to cut her salary by 15 percent, the reduction caused a dent in her pocket that she now compensates with her new venture. The business has nevertheless presented her with some challenges.

She however remained optimistic that the stimulus package presented in parliament for the 2020/21 financial year will put money in the pockets of small business owners. Enditem

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