• Except in pastoral and marginal agricultural counties.
• Farmers have held on to their maize even after the government increased the purchase price from Sh2,300 to Sh2,500
The government is considering releasing maize into the market to stabilise escalating prices, Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri said on Friday.
He said government is monitoring the situation and if it reaches unattainable levels, then the state will release more maize into the market to stabilise prices.
“Due to the delayed onset of the 2019 long rains, the maize market prices have started showing an upward trend ranging from Sh2,200 to Sh2,800 as at April 1, 2019, while the 2kg maize flour packet is retailing at Sh80 to Sh85,” Kiunjuri said.
Food prices, especially of maize flour, have been escalating in the last month due to low supply. Farmers are not delivering their maize to the National Cereals and Produce Board.
Kiunjuri said the national food security situation is stable except in pastoral and marginal agricultural counties.
He said Turkana, Garissa, Marsabit, Tana River and Isiolo counties are the worst affected by the ongoing drought and have greatest need for food assistance.
Kiunjuri urged farmers to plant early maturing crops. “I want to ask the county governments to support farmers through provision and farm inputs, especially those whose crops have been affected by the poor rainfall,” the CS said.
Kiunjuri said in the past few weeks, teams from the ministry have been on the ground and carried out a Rapid Food Situation Assessment.
The assessment indicates that the country has an estimated current maize stock of 21,382,886 (90kg) bags. Small-scale farmers are holding 13,040,716 bags, about 61 per cent of the total maize stocks.
Traders are holding 3,353,266 bags (16 per cent), while millers and processors have in their custody three per cent (680,588 bags). There are 4.3 million bags in NCPB depots across the country (20 per cent).
Kiunjuri directed the NCPB to accept maize deliveries from vetted farmers with more than the limit of 400 bags.
“This will enable vetted farmers in those counties that have exhausted their allocations to deliver any surplus maize to the NCPB to ease distribution to the needy counties across the country,” the CS said.
Farmers have held on to their maize even after the government increased the purchase price from Sh2,300 to Sh2,500 after pressure from various quarters last December.
In urban areas such as Kisumu and Nairobi maize prices have gone up to Sh3,000 per bag, while in Eldoret it is trading at between Sh2,700 and Sh2,800.
Kenya consumes 4.2 million bags per month in addition to other alternative uses such as livestock feeds and industrial products. The country produces 40 million bags on average annually.
This is against an annual consumption of 52 million bags, which creates a deficit of 12 million bags. The deficit is met through cross-border trade within East and Southern African.
Kiunjuri said other food commodities such as rice, beans and sorghum were readily available in the local market, though at steadily increasing prices. Due to delayed rains leafy vegetables are becoming scarce and their prices are rising.
The delayed long rains have led to poor crop germination incidences of early fall armyworm infestation.
Edited by Josephine M. Mayuya