• Traders offering farmers an average of Sh3,800 per bag.
• Prices will increase in about four months as stocks are exhausted.
Traders have flocked to the North Rift region to buy maize directly from farmers and store it in anticipation of shortages expected in four months.
The traders are offering farmers an average of Sh3,800 per 90kg bag but the prices will increase in the next few weeks as the stocks are exhausted.
Most traders have hired godowns in Eldoret town to store the maize.
A few large-scale farmers are using silos on their farms to store their maize so they can sell it when prices increase.
“Currently we are fairly happy with the market prices, which are likely to further increase in the next few weeks,” farmers Joseph Kibet said. He said farmers were selling the maize to traders as they are the only market available.
The NCPB is not likely to purchase any maize from the farmers f behalf of the Strategic Grain Reserves board.
SGR chairman Dr Noah Wekesa had indicated the board was to buy four million bags to replenish the reserves but the plan has been put on hold until further notice. NCPB depots, which are usually a beehive of activities, are now idle and most staff keep away due to lack of work.
The farmers have warned of an acute maize shortage in the next four months, following reduced production last year and heavy purchase by traders including exporters.
Reports indicating some traders were also buying maize in bulk and exporting to several African counties facing shortages.
We urge the board to ensure only the required quantities will be imported and flood gates won't be opened so we end up again with excess maize in the markets to hurt local producers.Farmer Thomas Korgoren.
“Farmers are happy at the moment because we have better prices in the open markets due to the ongoing heavy purchase by traders and the fact that last year’s production dropped by about 10 million bags,” Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo said.
He said there had been no imports of maize last year, leading to the current good prices but warned that supplies in the market would be depleted soon leading to shortages.
The farmers have asked the SGR board to ensure that expected imports of maize should flood the markets and damage local producers.
“We urge the board to ensure that only the required quantities will be imported and not have the flood gates opened so that we end up again having excess maize in the markets to hurt local producers," said prominent farmer Thomas Korgoren.
Farmers harvested fewer than 34 million bags of maize last year, which was a huge drop from the usual 43 million bags annually. The NCPB is yet to open its depots to buy maize from farmers despite the looming shortages.
NCPB has about 2.5 million bags in the Strategic Grain Reserves but is required to have about five million bags at any time. The board has partially allowed farmers to use its drying and storage facilities at a price.
“We are working closely with farmers so that remain in production at profitable levels as we also work to ensure that the country has enough maize stocks for the food reserves," Wekesa said.”
Moiben MP Sila Tiren says the SRR board should remain firm on regulating maize imports so that the agriculture sector remains stable with farmers making better earnings.
(Edited by V. Graham)