LET MARKET FORCES WORK

State 'won't set' maize prices as market's good

SFR says state would have offered same price as current Sh2,900

In Summary

• National Cereals and Produce Board says it will intervene should the prices drop to levels that will threaten the wellbeing of farmers. 

• NCPB is waiting for Sh5 billion allocation to purchase of four million bags of maize from farmers this year. 

Officials inspect maize stocks at the NCPB depot in Eldoret on October 30.
ENOUGH STOCK: Officials inspect maize stocks at the NCPB depot in Eldoret on October 30.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

The government has cancelled plans to set maize prices at the NCPB because of the prevailing favourable market.

Strategic Food Reserve chairman Noah Wekesa says the state would have offered the same price as the current market price of about Sh2,900.

However, the National Cereals and Produce Board says it will intervene should the prices drop to levels that will threaten the situation of farmers.

Farmers say they are ready to work closely with the board to ensure the market remains stable for their benefit and that of consumers.

“We will appreciate the board’s intervention should the market situation change,” Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo said.

The board is waiting for the allocation of Sh5 billion to purchase four million bags of maize from farmers this year. 

“We are preparing to open up the NCPB depots in preparation,” Wekesa said. 

Maize production this year is expected to drop by at least 11 million bags mainly due drought during the planting season.

Last year, farmers harvested  43 million bags. Agriculture CAS Andrew Tuimur has said this year's production will be about 32 million bags, mostly from high producing areas of Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu. 

Tuimur said the government was already making plans to buy maize from farmers to replenish the SFR. 

The majority of the farmers in the North Rift and South Rift are currently harvesting and they expect NCPB depots to be opened soon.

Last year, the board bought maize from farmers at Sh2,300 per bag but most farmers refused to deliver their produce, demanding at least Sh3,200 per bag to enable them to make a profit.

The CAS assured the maize growers that the government was prepared to purchase their stocks. 

“The government will buy more stock from farmers this season and we are waiting for the Strategic Food Reserve Board to make the necessary preparations,” he said. 

Tuimur said the drop in production was no cause for alarm as the country was well prepared.

Led by Tom Korgoren from Uasin Gishu, the farmers asked the SFR board to always consider their input costs when setting prices. 

“The government has been setting the price without even knowing the cost of production,” Korgoren said. 

He said they do not expect the government to allow in any imports citing enough stocks.

Edited by R.Wamochie