The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) will help individual farmers and co-operatives to treat their maize stocks to reduce post-harvest losses caused by poor handling.
More than 30 per cent of maize harvest goes to waste each year, contributing to food insecurity.
But now, the board will train farmers on proper handling of their produce and fumigate the maize at a cost of Sh5 per bag.
“We want to help these groups and individuals with the expertise of handling their grains to avoid the big losses,” said Gideon Misoi, the NCPB managing director.
Prof Misoi noted that the purpose of the warehouse receipting system (WRS) was not only to help farmers store their maize as they await good price but also to assist them in storing their harvest in a conducive environment.
He was speaking at Sambut in Eldoret North when he officiated the opening of a 10,000-bag capacity warehouse constructed by a community based organisation.
As the harvesting season approaches, NCPB has advised farmers to embrace the use of warehouse receipt system to cushion themselves from possible losses.
The managing director also urged farmers to avoid flooding markets with maize as a way of controlling the price of the commodity.
“Grain farmers should not make mad rush to sell off their harvest at low prices. The warehouse system will ensure that the supply of maize at the market is controlled,” said Prof Misoi.
He pointed out that NCPB has the capacity to handle 20 million bags under the WRS in their depots. During harvesting, middlemen have taken advantage of farmers and the storage system will cushion them from such incidents.
Prices favour them
However, Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) says it is not possible for farmers to stay with their stocks until the prices favour them, pointing out the rush is majorly dictated by the needs at hand.
“In January, farmers need school fees for their children; how is it possible for a farmer who depends on maize as the only source of income to withhold his produce?” asked Kipkorir Menjo, a director of KFA. Mr Menjo says that the government should increase funds for purchasing maize to safeguard the interests of the ordinary farmer.
Meanwhile, Schemers Community Organisation has been contracted by World Food Programme to supply 500 metric tonnnes of maize.
The organisation got Sh14 million from Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) in form of loan to meet the WFP requirement.