FOOD SECURITY

State to release 1.5 million bags of maize this month

In Summary

• According to the January Food Security report by the Ministry, farmers still hold a significant proportion of the maize stocks.

• On Wednesday, Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri met with millers to discuss the current maize prices in the country, and the scarcity of maize.

NCPB stores full of maize in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu county on January 8, 2019.
NCPB stores full of maize in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu county on January 8, 2019.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

The Government is set to release 1.5 million bags of maize to millers this month.

This is meant to cushion consumers against high prices of maize flour which are currently between Sh100 to Sh120 for a 2kg packet.

On Wednesday, Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri met with millers to discuss the current maize prices in the country, and the scarcity of maize as pointed out by millers last month.

Peter Kuguru, the chairman of the United Grain Millers Association said the millers proposed that the government should release at least three million bags of maize from the Strategic Food Reserve to last the country for one month.

Once the government has released the maize, farmers and traders will have no choice but to also release into the market what they are hoarding.

"This stock from farmers and traders will run the country for another two months. After that, the government will waiver tax for maize importation for millers depending on their capacity,” Kuguru said.

A 90kg bag of maize is selling at between Sh3, 300 to Sh3, 500 in Nairobi and Sh3, 200 in Kitale.

Tegemeo Institute has pointed out that 2019 is a unique year in the maize industry because whereas in other years where prices rise gradually from January, in 2019 prices remained depressed until March, and then rose sharply.

According to the January Food Security report by the Ministry, farmers still hold a significant proportion of the maize stocks.

“For the last six months, they have faced depressed prices averaging Sh1,500 per bag. Many farmers will bet on rising prices and are likely to continue holding on to their stocks until the right price is offered,” said Timothy Njagi.