The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) is faced with market challenges selling 700,000 bags of maize worth Sh1.2 billion to raise sufficient capital to purchase the new crop.
The board is selling the produce at Sh1,715 per 50-kilo bag as it struggles to recover Sh12.7 billion debts by various government ministries and agencies.
Maize prices have plummeted in most parts of the North Rift, selling at Sh2,400 down from Sh3,200 per 90-kilo bag following harvest of this season crop and arrival of cheap produce from neighbouring countries such as Uganda.
“We are offloading the produce to raise capital and create space in readiness buy this season crop,” said Titus Maiyo, corporate communications manager.
He said potential buyers including traders, millers and individuals are invited to stores countrywide to purchase the produce.
But the board is faced with market challenges selling the produce due to excess supply following harvest of this season maize crop.
Most buyers including millers are sourcing the produce from farmers at low prices of Sh2,400 per 90 Kg.
“It is much profitable buying maize from farmers since they are willing to negotiate the prices as compared to fixed prices by the NCPB,” said David Maina, one of the millers in Eldoret Town.
The NCPB has announced a buying price of Sh1,305 per 50-kilo bag this season as it faces stiff competition from millers and traders who purchase the produce at farm gate level and prompt payments.
Brokers and cartels in the North Rift are offering about Sh2,400 per 90 kilogram of maize down from Sh3,200 three months ago due to projected shortage after the yield dropped by 11 million bags from 44 million to 33 million last season.
The board is seeking Sh7.56 billion to buy 3 million bags of maize as part of the emergency stocks.
Some of the commercial maize farmers are contemplating reducing the acreage under cultivation to cushion them against losses of the dwindling markets. The maize farmers who held talks with parliamentary committee on agriculture Sila Tiren on Wednesday in Eldoret demanded for review of buying prices to reflect rising cost of production.
“What the NCPB is offering is too low as compared to increased production cost and will reverse the gains made in attaining the food security,” said Kipkorir Menjo, Kenya Farmers Association director.