The rainfall being experienced in Bungoma county has forced the price of charcoal to escalate due to its high demand in town. Charcoal suppliers explained that as some are buying charcoal to use for cooking purposes, others are buying it just for purposes of keeping the house much warmer when the ‘jiko’ is being used.
Mr. Nabuko runs a charcoal stall at Milimani village in the county. He attributes the dear price of charcoal to high transportation cost from Turkana and West Pokot counties. He said the price of charcoal has spiraled from Kshs. 1200 to Kshs. 1300. “Most of our customers are individuals and others buy in bulk such as hotels, restaurants, schools and hospitals.’’
He earns approximately three hundred shillings per bag when he sells in bulk and sixty shillings per four kilograms tin for domestic users.
“That is not bad business, especially because one bag amounts to around forty tins,” the middle-aged man said.
Nabuko encourages the idle youths and those engaged in jobs that generate less income to venture into the charcoal business due to its simplicity and that it doesn’t need advanced skills to set up and operate.
The business thrives in areas where charcoal is predominantly used. The residents of these areas generate low income, some middle low income, and some reside in the rural areas. The product is not perishable and is locally available.
Mrs. Wafula, a mother of four, also deals with the sale of the commodity. She discloses how she runs her business and she has ensured her four children are in school. She explained that there is no special skill or expertise needed to start and operate the business.
“The job is more interesting because I have many customers hence more income, nothing goes to waste as the remnants are collected and sold for the purposes of recycling,“ said Mrs. Wafula.
She was quick to rubbish claims that the business was for the lowly in society, saying that it was a great form of employment.
“Many people despise this venture, maybe because it comes across as a dirty job. But I don’t care as long as I can manage to pay my bills,’’ She adds.
A survey done by the West Media established that there are a good number of charcoal dealers in the county: an indicator of the business’ growth.