• NCPB says it has about 4.1 million bags of maize in its stores.
• Farmers fear maize production will drop by more than 30 per cent this year.
Maize prices in the Rift Valley have dropped as NCPB plans to sell off more than two million bags from its stores.
The prices increased to more than 3,200 bags last month for a 90kg bag. But the prices have dropped to between Sh2,600-Sh2,800 in Eldoret, Kitale, Bungoma and other areas.
NCPB spokesman Titus Maiyo said they are waiting for the government's approval to start selling the maize to millers and other interested buyers.
“The ministry is still working on modalities and once we get the approval, the board will start selling the stock,” Maiyo told the Star.
The board, he said, will sell the maize at Sh2,300 per 90kg bag. This is a price less than the Sh2,500, which the board has been purchasing maize from farmers.
Maiyo said the board has about 4.1 million bags of maize in all its stores.
The board had set side Sh5 billion to buy two million bags of maize from farmers for Sh2,300 per bag, but the NCPB only managed to buy 417,000 bags because most farmers withheld their produce due to the low prices.
Farmers in the region are still holding on to more than 10 million bags in their stores. Moiben MP Sila Tiren said the government should have increased prices at the NCPB and mopped up all the stock instead of waiting to import the commodity.
“We will expect the government to import only the deficit that we may have but not to flood the markets in a way that will further frustrate farmers,” the legislator told the Star yesterday.
The maize market remains stable, but there are fears there could be an acute shortage of the produce because of the drought that hurt farmers this year.
“The weather has been so bad with little rain in most parts of high producing areas. Production could decline by more than 30 per cent this year,” Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo said.
He said the dry weather had been compounded by the high cost of farm inputs this year, especially fertiliser. The government withdrew from the importation of subsidised fertiliser, and farmers had to buy at more than Sh3,100 in the open market.
“Our farmers have faced very serious challenges this year, but we will enhance the fight for the rights of the farmers who are victims of cartels in the agriculture sector,” businessman Bundotich Buzeki said.