UNGA PRICES

Sh100 unga subsidy may not be sustainable - food expert

There should be a clear framework on what will happen after the four-week subsidy period says Tegemeo Institute.

In Summary

• Timothy Njagi, a senior researcher at the Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development, says harvest in the South Rift region has started and this is likely to stabilise maize flour prices in the country but not bring them down due to low volume.

• The North Rift (Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Nandi) harvest will start around October to November and they are optimistic this will help reduce the price of maize.

Packets of maize flour in a Supermarket shelf.
HIGH COST OF LIVING: Packets of maize flour in a Supermarket shelf.
Image: FILE

Experts are concerned that the maize flour subsidy that the Government is offering Kenyans may not be sustainable.

Timothy Njagi, a senior researcher at the Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development, said even though the intervention is good, there should be a clear framework on what will happen after the four-week subsidy period.

“The blanket intervention may be a big burden on the Kenyan taxpayer come October but it should be targeted towards the needy households so that it can be offered for a long time until when the country is able to recover from the maize shortage,” he said.

Njagi told the Star on Tuesday that the food crisis is a global problem and that prices of food are likely to continue rise until the end of the year.

“We are in a global food crisis and the problems we are facing in Kenya are not unique to other parts of the world,” he said.

The researcher said harvest from the South Rift areas of Narok and Trans Mara Counties has started and this is likely to stabilize maize flour prices in the country but not bring them down due to low volume.

The North Rift (Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Nandi) harvest will be getting into the country around October to November and we are optimistic this will help reduce the price of maize.

“This is a global food crisis and we need to start thinking about short and medium term measures to put in place to address the food crisis in the country,” said Njagi, adding that with the coming of the long rains harvest season, farmers should take advantage of the warehouse storage system to store their produce.     

In January this year, Agriculture CS Peter Munya launched the Warehouse Receipt System (WRS) which was established by the Warehouse Receipt System Act No.8 of 2019 under the State Corporation in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the system allows farmers to deposit their commodities in certified warehouses belonging to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) and are issued receipts. The farmers can wait and sell their produce when the prices are good, and in addition they can use the receipt as a collateral to access credit.

“The warehouse receipt system will also help in reducing post-harvest losses, which is at 40 per cent, and will also address price exploitation by unscrupulous middlemen,” Munya said during the launch.