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Economy

NCPB cuts cost of maize to tame rising flour prices

A worker stands near bags of maize at the National Cereals and Produce Board Eldoret depot. Photo/FILE
A worker stands near bags of maize at the National Cereals and Produce Board Eldoret depot. Photo/FILE 

The national granary is set to stir the grains market with low maize prices as it moves to clear its reserves ahead of the next harvest.

The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) said it would discharge 500,000 sacks of maize to millers, traders and individuals at Sh2,800 a bag, in a public announcement posted on Monday.

The maize is currently stored in NCPB’s facilities in Bondo, Moi’s Bridge, Kitale, Eldoret, Kipkaren and Narok. 

“We are releasing maize to the market in order to bring down prices and make flour affordable to consumers,” said the board’s spokesman Evans Wasike.

This will be the lowest price for the commodity in a market where the average wholesale price for a 90-kg sack of dry maize currently stands at Sh3,100.

Last month, farmers protested after the ministries of agriculture in Kenya and Tanzania signed an agreement that allows private sector to import 200,000 tonnes of white maize at a landing price of Sh2,950 per sack.

Millers have welcomed efforts to bring down dry maize prices, saying it would lower the cost of living.

“This is good news not only to millers, but also Kenyans as it is part of the strategy to lower the price of flour,” said millers association chairman Diamond Lalji.

Mr Lalji said with current flow of maize from Tanzania and Uganda, consumers should expect flour prices to come down in the coming weeks.

The offloading of NCPB stock is, however, expected to further push down market prices that have seen a two-kilogramme packet of maize flour retail at Sh118 from Sh110 two months ago.

NCPB said that the move is an intervention approach that is meant to stabilise the price of the country’s staple with the view to guarding against high prices of the commodity.

The country consumes about four million bags of maize per month.

Mr Lalji said millers would be inspecting the maize this week to ascertain if it meets the required standards for human food before they purchase it.

According to the Agriculture ministry’s food balance sheet report, farmers have been hoarding in excess of four million bags, a move believed to be one of the factors that contributed to high prices of the commodity.

The low-priced maize from NCPB is set to draw a wedge between the government and farmers who have held onto their stocks to press for higher prices.

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