Commodities

Maize price drops to a two-year low after Uhuru order

maize-marishoni

Women stand next to bags of maize in Mariashoni, Nakuru County. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NMG

geraldandae

Summary

  • Maize prices have fallen sharply just weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered traders to pay Sh2,500 for a 90 kilogramme bag.
  • Traders are paying farmers Sh1,700 for a 90 kilo bag at the farm gate, the lowest price in the last two years. Last year, a 90 kilo bag of maize was selling at Sh2,000 at the farm gate.
  • Farmers have started harvesting the main season crop in most parts of the North Rift with the exercise expected to peak next month.

Maize prices have fallen sharply just weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered traders to pay Sh2,500 for a 90 kilogramme bag.

Traders are paying farmers Sh1,700 for a 90 kilo bag at the farm gate, the lowest price in the last two years. Last year, a 90 kilo bag of maize was selling at Sh2,000 at the farm gate.

“We are now selling our maize at Sh1,700, this is very low considering the high cost of production that we are incurring in growing the staple,” said Ms Bilhah Wechuli, a farmer in Trans Nzoia County.

Farmers have started harvesting the main season crop in most parts of the North Rift with the exercise expected to peak next month.

On their part, traders are complaining that the maize that they are getting from farmers has a high level of moisture and they would have to incur extra cost in drying the grain.

President Uhuru Kenyatta last month directed the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that farmers are paid a minimum of Sh2,500 per bag for their maize.

Mr Kenyatta also issued a number of other directives aimed at safeguarding farmers and enhancing their income, which included lowering of the drying and storage charges at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).

Uasin Gishu County Executive Committee member for Agriculture Samuel Yego said the government needs to release funds to NCPB to purchase maize from farmers to set a benchmark price for traders at the market.

He said the directive by the President will not go far if the funds are not released for NCPB to start buying grains.

“Unless there is money for NCPB to buy maize, traders will pay what they think is right for them because this is a free market and you cannot force them to pay farmers a certain amount,” said Mr Yego.

NCPB announced last week that it has started drying and storage services of maize to farmers following the presidential directive.

The board has reviewed drying charges downward by 50 percent, from the current Sh40 per unit drop of moisture to Sh20.