Commodities

Millers run out of maize as farmers hoard 16.7m bags

ncpb-naxf

The National Cereals and Produce Board, Nakuru depot. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Farmers eyeing better prices for their produce are clinging onto more than 95 per cent of the country’s maize stocks, starving grain millers of supplies, a fresh audit shows.
  • Data by Agriculture ministry indicates that growers are holding 16.7 million bags of maize stocks out of 17.7 million bags.

Farmers eyeing better prices for their produce are clinging onto more than 95 per cent of the country’s maize stocks, starving grain millers of supplies, a fresh audit shows.

Data by Agriculture ministry indicates that growers are holding 16.7 million bags of maize stocks out of 17.7 million bags.

This is sharp contrast to the 512,390 bags in the hands of millers and traders and the 500,000 bags held by the National Cereals and Produce Board(NCPB).

Millers recently complained that their stocks were dwindling as most farmers are not releasing their grain to the market, in what has pushed up the cost of flour on the shelves.

The price of the commodity had been stabilised by supplies coming from Uganda with the report showing that a 90-kilo bag has been averaging at Sh2,600.

“The estimated domestic stocks by end of March 2021 had maize at 17.7 million bags,” read the March report.

The recent tightening of restrictions on imports coming in from Uganda and Tanzania has already affected the prices of maize with millers saying they are now buying a 90-kilo bag at Sh3,000 from Sh2,000 previously.

Millers had indicated that there could be a maize shortage in the country starting this month.

Tanzanian and Ugandan maize plays a key role in Kenya’s commodity market as it supplements the available stocks given that the country does not produce enough to meet the annual requirements.

Maize imports from Uganda and Tanzania dropped by 73 per cent as Kenya imposed strict measures earlier in the year.

Data from the Ministry of Agriculture indicated that the imports from Uganda dropped from 637,489 bags in February to 146,707 bags in March.

Traders importing maize from Uganda to Kenya are supposed to have certificate of origin from the counties of produce before they get clearance at the border points.

The government also required traders to have certificate of conformity indicating that the aflatoxin levels complies with the maximum required levels of 10 parts per billion, which are the standards that Kenya adheres to.