State eyes 40 million bags of maize on adequate rains


PS State Department for Crop Development, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development Harsama Kello speaking at the 4th Phytosanitary Conference themed “Enhancing phytosanitary systems for trade facilitation, climate smart agriculture and sustainable livelihoods” held in Nairobi on September 18, 2023. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

The government expects maize harvests of over 40 million bags in the current harvesting season, boosted by sufficient rainfall during the long-rain planting season and a State-backed fertiliser subsidy programme.

Crop Development Principal Secretary Harsama Kello said the State was anticipating a significantly higher harvest which he noted would play a pivotal role in lowering the prices of food.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows the country harvested 34.3 million bags of maize last year, a significant drop from 36.7 million bags in the previous season.

It was the lowest yield in more than five years driven by a biting drought that ravaged the country for months and a sharp increase in the cost of inputs, especially fertiliser and fuel.

Maize production has dropped steadily in recent years driven by drought, land subdivision, poor quality of fertiliser, land overuse, and high cost of inputs with production reducing from a high of 44.6 million bags in 2018 to just 34.3 million in 2022.

“Last year we harvested nearly 35 million bags and this year we are expecting to harvest more than 40 million bags. This will help bring prices down,” said Mr Kello.

The PS was speaking during the fourth International Phytosanitary Conference being held by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) in Nairobi.

The disbursement of subsidised fertiliser by President William Ruto has been cited as one of the reasons for higher anticipated output in the ongoing harvesting season.

The President last year cut fertiliser prices to Sh3,500 from Sh6,500 for a 50-kilogramme bag through a subsidy.

Last month, the Head of State further cut the price to Sh2,500 ahead of the short rains planting season in October.

“Low production of key food crops such as maize, potatoes, and vegetables was evident from the significantly high prices observed in 2022,” said KNBS.

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