NCPB TO BUY 4M BAGS

Maize prices increase to Sh3,200 per bag

In Summary

• The price of maize had dropped to Sh2,500 per bag two months ago.

• Last year the NCPB bought the cereal at Sh2,300 per 90kg bag. Most farmers refused to sell to the parastatal, citing poor prices.

Maize stocks at the NCPB deport in Eldoret in June 30
UNGA: Maize stocks at the NCPB deport in Eldoret in June 30
Image: /MATHEWS NDANYI

Maize prices have increased to Sh3,200 per 90kg bag.

Two months ago, the price of maize had dropped to Sh2,500 per bag.

Despite the improved prices, millers are complaining of a shortage of the commodity in most areas.

Most farmers in the bread basket region of Rift Valley are harvesting and millers fear that the price will remain high in the next one month until supplies increase.

The price of maize flour has also gone up in supermarkets to an average of Sh120 per 2kg.

Owners of the wholesale shops have also reported frequent shortages of flour due to maize shortages.

Maize flour prices stood at an average Sh105 for a 2kg packet last month.

“What is happening is that there is no influx of maize from outside the country and farmers are in the last stages of harvesting. The shortage of maize is not expected to last long,” director of the Kenya Farmers Association Kipkorir Menjo said.

The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) will buy four million bags of maize this year, according to Strategic Food Reserve Board chairman Noah Wekesa. The board still has more than three million bags in its stores under the Strategic Grain Reserves.

Wekesa said farmers expect to harvest 33 million bags of the cereal. They will sell most of it through in the open market.

“We have budgeted to buy only four million bags and let farmers sell the rest through their own usual ways,” he told farmers and NCPB officials in Eldoret last week.

He said the government’s price will be announced after consultations with farmers, millers and other stakeholders.

“We have started consultations with farmers and millers to help the government determine the price at which we will purchase the maize,” Wekesa said. He said that the cost of production and consumers’ interests would be factored in.

Last year the NCPB bought the cereal at Sh2,300 per 90kg bag. Most farmers refused to sell to the parastatal, citing poor prices. They took nothing short of Sh3,500 per 90kg bag.

Wekesa said, “We cannot act like in the past where we made mistakes by dictating the price of maize without involving the input of farmers and other stakeholders.”

Yesterday, farmers said they would not accept anything less than Sh3,600 per 90kg bag.

Menjo said fluctuating prices had been the main problem affecting maize production in the country.

“Farmers’ earnings have been diminishing due to low prices from the government through the NCPB and the middlemen,” Menjo said.

Farmer Kimutai Kolum welcomed the decision to involve the growers in setting the price.

Two weeks ago Agriculture CAS Andrew Tuimur said maize production would drop from 43 million bags last year to 33 million bags this year due mainly to bad weather.