Economy

Pressure on flour price as maize production drops by 8m bags

fk

Agriculture secretary Felix Koskei (right) with Green Arava CEO Barak Tamir when they signed a deal to build a model farm in Tana River and Kilifi. PHOTO | JENNIFER MUIRURI

Summary

  • Agriculture ministry estimates the country will harvest 34 million bags against a target of 42 million this year, due to poor weather.
  • The National Drought Management Authority and the Kenya Red Cross have warned of a looming famine following the prolonged drought.
  • The country’s strategic maize reserve has dropped to nearly half of the optimum level of five million bags, underlining the food crisis facing the country.

Maize production is expected to drop by eight million bags this year in what will put pressure on flour prices and inflation.

The food report released Wednesday by the Agriculture ministry shows that the country will harvest 34 million bags against a target of 42 million bags due to poor weather, especially in North Rift Valley.

“We expect to register a drop in this year’s harvest, however, this should not be a cause for alarm as production of other foodstuff such as Irish potatoes and pulses have improved,” Agriculture secretary Felix Koskei said at a press conference.

This comes at a time when the Ministry of Devolution has released Sh1 billion to help in fighting hunger that threatens more than one million Kenyans in 23 counties.

The National Drought Management Authority and the Kenya Red Cross have warned of a looming famine following the prolonged drought.

Mr Koskei, however, said currently there is enough stocks in the country but the problem was accessibility by the affected persons.

“As of July this year, the country had stocks of 9.8 million bags of maize, which is enough to take us for the next three months. What we have is sufficient but the problem is getting access to it,” he said.

Frequent poor weather has hit Kenya’s farm-based economy hard. The country’s strategic maize reserve has dropped to nearly half of the optimum level of five million bags, underlining the food crisis facing the country.

READ: Kenya stares at food crisis as maize reserves drop

Maize prices have a big effect on inflation in Kenya where it is the staple food and accounts for a significant share of poor households’ budget.

Kenya’s inflation crept up to 7.67 per cent in July from 7.39 per cent in the previous month, meaning that the cost of living measure went slightly above the central bank’s preferred range of 2.5-7.5 per cent.

According to the food report, farmers are holding about 4.4 million bags, traders 1.7 million bags, NCPB 2.9 million bags and Millers 395,000 bags. Food aid agencies including WFP, World Vision among others were holding 256,000 bags of maize.

The country expects 1.8 million bags of maize through cross-border trade between now and October, especially from Uganda and Tanzania, which help in stabilising the price of the staple.

The price of flour has so far reduced by an average of Sh6 as a result of the imports from the EAC states as well as the move by the National Cereals and Produce Board to release half a million bags of maize to the market at a low cost.