The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has only purchased a paltry 10,000 bags of maize from growers as large-scale farmers, who are its main suppliers, hoard their grain.
Managing director Joseph Kimote said the agency relies heavily on large-scale farmers to deliver the grain in big quantities but most of them are hoarding it in anticipation that the price would rise further.
“We are a big player in the market and we rely heavily on large-scale farmers who can deliver up to 5,000 bags. However, most of them are not bringing their produce to the market as they wait for the price to increase further,” he said.
Mr Kimote said the NCPB targets to buy a million bags of maize before the close of the season and expressed optimism that with the competitive price that it is offering to the market, the target will be achieved.
The price of maize has been on an upward trend since mid-December, rising from a low of Sh2,300 for a 90-kilogramme bag to a high of Sh3,200.
Mr Kimote said small-scale farmers, who have so far sold their maize to middlemen, cannot transport the grain to NCPB depots due to the high costs involved.
He said the NCPB is now working at opening aggregation cen-tres where small-scale farmers can deliver their grain without necessarily taking it to the depots, cutting transport costs.
The agency said there has been an increase in supplies since it raised the buying price of the commodity and that the trend is expected to hold in the next few weeks.
The NCPB was forced last month to increase the price of maize by Sh300 to attract more stocks from farmers in the wake of a shortage of supply in the market.
The board is now paying Sh3,000 for a 90-kilo bag of maize to farmers up from Sh2,700 as the State corporation seeks to beef up its stocks.
The new price has forced millers and traders to increase the cost at which they are buying the produce from farmers to an average of Sh3,200 to get sufficient stocks from growers.