The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has sold its entire maize stocks to millers in a quest to lower the current high prices of flour.
NCPB managing director Joseph Kimote said the agency has released 200,000 bags of maize to millers at lower prices to try and address the runaway price of flour that has now hit a historic high of Sh148 from Sh125 previously for a two-kilogramme packet.
The board sold a 90-kilo bag of maize at Sh3,200 for the bulk maize in silos and Sh3,800 for the packaged one against the current Sh4,500 that the same quantity is fetching at the market.
“We have sold everything that we had bought to millers because they are the ones who can contribute to the reduction of the current cost of flour,” said Mr Kimote.
He said the maize was sold at Sh3,800 because of the high cost of imported jute bags that made packaging expensive.
NCPB has been buying maize under its commercial wing for trading but it had difficulties in getting enough stocks this year from farmers as most have been hoarding in anticipation of higher prices in the coming days.
Mr Kimote said they are still open to buying more maize from farmers and urged those who are still holding onto their stocks to release it.
“There are a number of large-scale farmers who still have maize at the moment, I would want them to sell it to us as we are still open for purchases,” he said.
NCPB is a big player in the market and mainly relies on large-scale farmers who can deliver up to 5,000 bags at once, but most of them are not bringing their produce to the market as they wait for the price to increase further.
The board has been facing stiff competition from millers and traders with the scarcity of supply in the market pushing up the cost of the staple to a high of Sh4,500 for a 90-kilo bag.
The board recently requested Sh10 billion to purchase maize for the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) in the current financial year to restock the depleted grain at the facility.