• Farmers expect to harvest 33 million bags of the cereal this year compared to last year's 44 million bags
• Kenya Farmers Association attributes poor maize production in the country to low prices paid by NCPB
The purchase price of a bag of maize will be announced after the ongoing consultations with farmers, millers and other stakeholders.
The Strategic Food Reserve Oversight Board has been meeting farmers and other cereals market players to determine a price acceptable to all, according to chairman Noah Wekesa.
Last month the board announced that the National Cereals and Produce Board will buy four million bags of maize this year. It still has 2.5 million bags in its stores.
“We are consulting with farmers and millers to help the government determine the price at which we will purchase the maize,” Wekesa said. The cost of production and consumers' interests will be among the main considerations.
Farmers expect to harvest 33 million bags of the grain compared to last year's 44 million bags. They will sell most of it in the open market.
“We have budgeted to buy only four million bags," Wekesa said.
Currently, a bag of maize in the open market is retailing at Sh3,200, up from Sh2,600 a month ago. Millers have been complaining of the shortage of the commodity. This has led to increased prices of maize flour with a 2kg packet selling at Sh145.
“We are happy that the SFR is carrying out public participation before determining the price of maize because that will give farmers a chance to explain their cost of production,” Moiben MP Sila Tiren said.
Last year the NCPB was buying the cereal at Sh2,300 per 90 kg bag. Most farmers refused to sell to the parastatal, citing the poor price. They demanded nothing short of Sh3,500 per 90 kg bag.
Yesterday, Wekesa said: “We cannot act like in the past when we made mistakes by dictating the price of maize without involving the input of farmers and other stakeholders.”
Some of the farmers said they would not accept less than Sh3,600 per 90 kg bag.
Kenya Farmers Association board member Kipkorir Menjo said low 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.
Three weeks ago CAS for Agriculture Andrew Tuimur said maize production would drop from 43 million bags last year to 33 million bags this year due mainly to bad weather.