- Middlemen have flooded the region to buy maize at the doorstep and millers have adjusted their prices to about Sh4,200 per 90kg bag.
- Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi announced that the grain would be purchased through the NCPB for the National Strategic Food Reserve.
Millers and middlemen have offered maize farmers in the Rift Valley Sh200 more on every 90kg bag of maize after the government announced it would buy the cereals at Sh4,000.
The traders are seeking to mop up the produce from farmers after the growers expressed mixed reactions to the government announcement that it will buy a bag of maize at Sh4,000 through the National Cereals and Produce Board.
Middlemen have flooded the region to buy maize at the doorstep and millers have adjusted their prices to about Sh4,200 per 90kg bag as a majority of the farmers said the price set by the government was too low for them to make a profit.
Some of the farmers said the minimum price at NCPB would have been Sh5,500 per 90kg bag considering the cost of production which had skyrocketed.
One of the leading farmers in Uasin Gishu Joshua Chebaiwo said they had expected a better price from the government but would wait to see how market forces play out in the next few months before selling off their produce.
However, Chebaiwo said they appreciate the government's effort to cushion them from low prices offered by middlemen.
“Many of the small-scale farmers have already sold off their produce because life is too difficult but for the large-scale farmers we will wait to see before we sell out our produce," he said.
Other farmer’s representatives including Thomas Korogoren, Ben Too and Josphine Cheboi said they would also not rush to sell off their maize despite the government price offer at NCPB.
“We have toiled hard on our farms with the exorbitant costs of farm inputs and if we sell at Sh 4,000 per 90kg bag that will amount to heavy losses. We will wait and see," Korogoren said.
Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi announced that the grain would be purchased through the NCPB for the National Strategic Food Reserve.
The announcement came days after the Cabinet approved a memo by the ministry to buy one million bags of maize from local farmers.
The Cabinet approved Sh4 billion for the purchase of the commodity.
“We will be buying the maize from registered farmers who are in our database,” Linturi said when he appeared before the Senate Agriculture Committee last Thursday.
He said the NCPB has already opened its doors to receive the grain.
"We have calibrated the scales and we have ready driers,” he said.
CEO of the NCPB Andrew Kimote said they would buy the maize on a first come first serve basis.
“We will only buy maize as per the funds allocated because we don’t want to run into debts with farmers," Kimote said.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei has since questioned the maize prices set by the government.
"A farmer spends Sh5,500 to produce a bag of 90kg. That means for every bag of maize the government buys, a farmer loses Sh1,500,” Cherargei said.
Linturi, however, defended the prices and said the maize farmers would be free to sell their produce to any other potential buyers who may offer better prices.
The ministry is currently procuring 100 dryers at a cost of Sh2.2 billion that will assist farmers in drying their grain before purchase by the government.
These dryers, Linturi said, will assist farmers in reducing post-harvest losses by ensuring their maize is properly dried and stored.
"The mobile dryers will enable farmers to preserve the quality of their maize and increase their income. This is a significant development, as post-harvest losses have been a major challenge for farmers in the past,” he added.
NCPB, he said, will charge farmers Sh70 to dry a 90kg bag of maize.
Kimote said the board was ready to start receiving maize from farmers and had the capacity to store upto 20 million bags.