CRISIS

Maize prices could hit Sh4,500 per 90kg bag next week

Government told to cushion consumers against high cost of unga, currently Sh150 for 2kg packet

In Summary

• Farmers have incurred many challenges, including the high cost of fertiliser; some farmers don't use fertiliser, reduce acreage. 

• Acreage under maize has also reduced and the fall army worm has infested some areas. Delayed and poor rains will lead to low production, maize shortage.

Better times, affordable maize on a supermarket shelf.
MAIZE MIRAGE? Better times, affordable maize on a supermarket shelf.
Image: FILE

Millers are warning of a worsening maize shortage that will continue pushing up the price of unga.  

A two-kilo packet of maize meal is currently retailing at an average of Sh150.

Next week maize in bulk could cost Sh4,500 per 90kg bag,

Kennedy Nyaga, chairman of the United Grain Millers Association (UGMA), which mostly represents small-scale millers, said what is being imported from Tanzania is not enough.

While speaking to the Star on phone on Friday, Nyaga said a 90kg bag of maize is selling at Sh4,000 to Sh4,200 he expects it to cost Sh4,500 in the coming week.

“This is due to the scarcity in the country and in the region. We speculate that Tanzania may stop importation of maize to retain enough stocks for their country and this will worsen the situation in Kenya,” he said.  

He said the government is aware of the maize crisis "but little has been done to find a solution so consumers can be cushioned against high cost of unga. We are in a wait-and-see situation.”

Last month, Eastern Africa Grain Council executive director Gerald Masila said price of maize had reached a record of Sh4,200 to Sh4,300 per 90kg bag.   

Masila told Kenyans to brace for tough times.

Timothy Njagi from Tegemeo Institute said the Government should intervene because even when the harvest starts coming into the market in a few months, the amount will be insufficient.

“This season, farmers have incurred many problems starting with the high cost of fertiliser and some farmers are not using fertiliser at all. Acreage has been reduced and the fall army worm is invading some areas," he said..

"Along with delayed rains, this will lead to low production.

The looming shortage has been made worse by the war in Ukraine because Ukraine was a big supplier of non-GMO maize globally.

“Prices will continue going up unless there is interventions," he said.

Countries like Malawi and Zambia that have surplus have already been approached by Asian countries like India. There has been discussion at the African Union  to try and cushion countries against rising costs.

(Edited by V. Graham

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