Farmers' Sh4bn unused as they hoard cheap maize

Farmers opt for better offers after NCPB's prices drop from a Sh3,200 high to Sh2,600 to Sh2,800

In Summary

• NCPB had targeted to buy two million bags, s so far bought 417,000 bags. 

• Board now owes farmers Sh10 million for deliveries within the last six months. 

New maize stocks bought within the last six months by the NCPB at the Eldoret depot .
MAIZE SALES: New maize stocks bought within the last six months by the NCPB at the Eldoret depot .

The National Cereals and Produce Board has paid Sh1.03 billion to maize farmers who delivered produce in the last six months.

The Strategic Grain Reserves Fund had been given Sh5 billion to buy two million bags of maize at Sh2,300 per bag but the board is left with about Sh4 billion after buying only a quarter of the target.

The board says it owes farmers about Sh10 million to be paid out soon.

Board spokesmanTitus Maiyo said last week they received Sh238.5 million for farmers, increasing the total payout to more than Sh1 billion.

The payments are for 414,000 bags of maize out of 417,000 bags delivered within the six-month period.

“In effect, we have paid all farmers who delivered their maize before March 31 and we are only left with a few of them who delivered after that,” Maiyo said.

He said the board was no longer receiving maize from farmers because they had opted for better prices than the offer at NCPB.

Maize prices in the Rift Valley have dropped as the NCPB also announced plans to sell more than two million bags from its stores.

The prices increased to more than Sh3,200 last month for a 90kg bag. But the prices have dropped to between Sh2,600 and Sh2,800 in Eldoret, Kitale, Bungoma and other areas.

Maiyo said they are waiting for the government's approval to start selling to millers and other buyers.

“The ministry is still working on modalities and once we get the approval, the board will start selling the stock,” Maiyo told the Star.

The board, he said, will sell the maize at Sh2,300 per 90kg bag. This is lower than the Sh2,500 at which the board has been purchasing. 

Maiyo said the board has 4.1 million bags of maize in all its stores.

Farmers in the region are still holding on to more than 10 million bags in their stores. Moiben MP Sila Tiren said the government should have increased prices at the NCPB and mopped up all the stock instead of waiting to import maize.

“We will expect the government to import only the deficit we may have but not to flood the markets to further frustrate farmers,” Tiren told the Star yesterday.

The maize market remains stable, but there are fears there could be an acute shortage because of the drought that hurt farmers this year. 

(Edited by R.Wamochie)