New grain milling plant set to change growers’ fortunes
Posted Thursday, July 26 2012 at 22:12
A government initiative to start a grain milling plant in Trans Nzoia County is expected to change the nature of maize trade in the region and check the price of flour, that has been at an all-time high.
Maize trade in Trans Nzoia has in the past relied on the warehouse receipting system under which farmers store their produce with the National Cereals Produce Board as they wait for the prices to improve.
Once in place, the plant that will be owned by farmers through acquisition of shares, will pay farmers on delivery while ensuring that consumers enjoy favourable prices of flour, according to area co-operatives officer John Mutenyo.
Despite the fact that Trans Nzoia is a major maize producing area, its headquarters, Kitale, has no maize mill. Only United Millers buys maize from farmers in the region but the milling is done in Mombasa.
The Millers Association of Kenya has welcomed the move saying it was a good idea long overdue. Association chairman Diamond Lalji said the project would be beneficial to both farmers and consumers.
“Milling is a competitive industry in the country and the many the players, the better for the consumers,” he said.
The mill, licensed as North Rift Cereals Miller and Marketing Cooperative Limited, is expected to keep cartels that have for long exploited farmers by offering low prices at bay.
Last year, farmers sold their maize to middlemen for as low as Sh1,800 a bag when NCPB was offering Sh3,000 as many could not afford to transport their grain to the depot.
Mr Mutenyo urged farmers to buy shares so the project can start by year end. Individual farmers will register with Sh2,000 and purchase minimum shares worth Sh 25,000 while cooperatives will register with Sh10,000.
The officer noted that in the event that farmers fail to raise the required Sh1 billion, the government will chip in to fill the deficit.
Farmers who will deliver their maize at the milling plant will also benefit from two driers bought by the Ministry of Agriculture that will dry their maize for free.
NCPB has been charging up to Sh28 for every drop of moisture per kilogramme while commercial service providers are charging Sh46 for the same.
Farmers in Trans Nzoia County have welcomed the government’s initiative
The plant will benefit farmers in Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Nandi and Uasin Gishu counties.