LEADER

State must act to end perennial maize shortage

In Summary

• Farm inputs must be made affordable to reduce the cost of production, eventually reducing food costs.

• The government must fully liberalise the maize marking and only hold strategic reserves.

Traders selling maize near the Kipchoge Stadium in Eldoret.
Traders selling maize near the Kipchoge Stadium in Eldoret.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI

Year in, year out, the maize shortage, the price of unga and the push and pull between millers, farmers and the state over maize prices is replayed.

The price of maize flour has risen by Sh5 in two weeks and retails at Sh130. It will increase further. This has been caused by the rising cost of maize, now selling for Sh3,400 to Sh4, 000 per 90kg bag.

Ugali is Kenya’s staple but consumption far outweighs production capacity. This has led to profiteering. There is always a standoff among the  Agriculture ministry, the NCPB, the Strategic Food Reserve, maize millers and farmers.

Government must act to this perennial problem. First, inputs must be made affordable to reduce production costs, bringing farmers back to farming and reducing food costs.

Second,  government must fully liberalise the maize market and only hold strategic reserves. The NCPB has no role in determining prices, this should be left to the market forces of supply and demand.

A national campaign can help Kenyans diversify their diet and choose foods such as potatoes and bananas. This will reduce demand for unga and ease pressure on retail prices.

Short of this, Kenyans will continue fighting over ugali for many years to come.

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The current chair, president, and CEO of IBM was born on July 29, 1957.