Opinion and Analysis
Roll out more initiatives to boost local farmers
Posted Sunday, August 12 2012 at 17:57
Local wheat farmers must be breathing a sigh of relief after it was reported in the local press last week that millers are now scrambling for their produce, following the reintroduction of a 10 per cent duty on imports and a subsequent rise in global prices.
While the farmers have previously been complaining about the local millers’ incessant obsession with imported wheat and the tendency to offer them lower prices, now the ball is in their court and the prices have started rising.
A 90 kilogramme bag of wheat is now going for Sh3,300 from Sh2,600 when the tax on imports had not been reintroduced.
The prices are bound to rise as demand among the millers intensifies.
With the global wheat prices on the increase and having lost the zero import duty window , the millers have now turned their sights on the Kenyan wheat and many farmers are now smiling all the way to the bank.
We welcome this new development as it means that our farmers will finally be able to reap good earnings from their sweat.
As one farmer was quoted as saying, now it is the millers who are looking for the farmers trying to buy their wheat.
There are reports that some millers are buying the commodity straight from the farms, which just goes to show that our farmers are benefiting from the sudden demand.
According to data from the Agriculture ministry, the annual demand for wheat in Kenya stands at 900,000 tonnes against a production of 360,000 tonnes. The shortfall is filled by imports.
The figures show that the millers are capable of buying the whole local production quota before seeking imports and this is what the government should encourage. By doing so, the local wheat sector will thrive.
Millers should also stop relying on the cheaper imports when it suits them as the local farmers are the ones who end up suffering after being forced to sell their produce at throw-away prices.
We hope that the renewed interest in local wheat will put an end to the era of poor prices for our farmers. It is high time the government rolled out various initiatives to help grow the local wheat sector.