- Experts say any price below Sh4,000 per 90 kg bag will be low for the farmers due to the high cost of production.
- Despite government’s subsidy programme, farmers still incurred high cost of production due to the price of fuel.
As maize farmers from the North Rift wait for the government to announce prices, a food security expert has called for fair pricing of the commodity.
The expert has projected that any price below Sh4,000 per 90kg bag will be low for the farmers due to the high cost of production.
On Wednesday, Former PS State Department for Crops Development Kello Harsama now at the State Department for ASALs and Regional Development, said the government will announce maize prices this week.
He urged farmers not to sell their produce at throw-away prices but instead wait until when prices are announced and when the National Cereals and Produce Board will open depots to purchase maize.
Timothy Njagi, a senior researcher at Tegemeo Institute said currently, a 90kg bag of maize is selling at between Sh4,000 to Sh4,500.
He said despite farmers benefiting from the government’s subsidy programme, the cost of production is still high due to the price of fuel.
While speaking to the Star on phone, Njagi said the government should ensure fair pricing of maize.
“This will guarantee that farmers do not get a price below their cost of production, and that consumers are able to afford the cost of unga,” he said.
Njagi projected that at Sh4,000 per 90kg bag and above, farmers will be able to make money.
However, farmers from the North Rift region want the government to set the price of maize at Sh5,000 per bag for them to break even.
But the Ministry of Agriculture is currently finalising an assessment on maize availability and cost of production, which will help to determine the anticipated price of maize.
The government is projecting to have a bumper harvest of 44 million bags of maize out of which more than 23 million bags will be from high-producing counties in the North Rift region.
The ministry has attributed the good harvest to government interventions on subsidy fertiliser.
Some farmers have already started selling off their produce to middlemen at throw-away prices of as low as Sh3,000 per bag. But Harsama told farmers to be patient and wait for the new prices and the opening of NCPB depots.
“We will ensure we purchase all maize from farmers, there is no need for the producers to dispose of the maize at cheaper prices," the PS said.
He said the government was in the process of purchasing 100 driers to boost the existing capacity by NCPB to help farmers dry their crop, especially during rainy seasons.
NCPB managing director Joseph Kimote said the board has the capacity to buy and store 20 million bags of 90kg in various depots across the country.
He said once the purchase starts, the farmers would be handled on a first come first served basis, and that the board would only buy maize with money available to avoid debts with farmers.
Meanwhile, a bill has been tabled before Parliament seeking to have the government fix prices for essential commodities.
If the Price Control (Essential Goods) (Amendment) Bill 2023 is enacted, the National Treasury CS will have powers to fix the maximum retail and wholesale prices of essential goods.
The Price Control (Essential Goods) (Amendment) Bill 2023 seeks to amend the Price Control (Essential Goods) Act, No. 26 of 2011.
The Bill sponsored by Khwisero MP Christopher Aseka names essential goods such as maize, maize flour, wheat, wheat flour, rice, cooking fat, cooking oil, sugar, paraffin, diesel and petrol.