Commodities

State to buy Sh5bn maize for reserves

maize

The Strategic Food Reserve plans to purchase maize worth Sh5 billion from 2020 crop. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The Strategic Food Reserve targets to two million 90-kilogramme bags of maize from farmers at Sh2,500 each.
  • The announcement clears uncertainty about the country’s food security since April when Agriculture secretary Peter Munya disbanded the SRF.

The Strategic Food Reserve (SRF) board plans to purchase maize worth Sh5 billion from this year’s crop to safeguard the country’s grain requirements in the new year.

Noah Wekesa, SFR chairman, said they target to two million 90-kilogramme bags of maize from farmers at Sh2,500 each.

The price is slightly higher than the Sh2,500 that President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the Agriculture ministry to enforce for purchases of grains from farmers.

“The board will purchase two million 90-kg bags worth Sh5.04 billion from the local maize farmers in the country and inject another Sh750 million to boost productivity in the livestock sector, rice and fish farmers.

“The board will partner with Kenya Meat Commission and the Warehouse Receipting Council (WRC) in a bid to provide value for money for the tax payers money,” said Dr Wekesa.

The announcement clears uncertainty about the country’s food security since April when Agriculture secretary Peter Munya disbanded the SRF.

“We have been out of office since May when the board was dissolved by the Treasury. A section of stakeholders sought legal redress against the Cabinet secretary’s decision leading to High Court suspending the revocation recently,” he said.

President Kenyatta had in March directed the Treasury to disband SFR within six months.

The SFR was established under the Public Finance Management (strategic food trust fund) Regulations 2015 to provide strategic food reserve in physical stock and cash equivalent. This regulation was revoked in May.

The body had been created as a Strategic Grain Reserve, but the name was later to be changed to Strategic Food Reserve to accommodate other foodstuffs other than grain.

Agriculture ministry had announced that the government would not purchase maize through National Cereals and Produce Board but instead it would leave the function to the private sector through the newly established Warehouse Receipting Council.

The price of maize in the market is slowly rising as farmers hold onto their crop, creating a tight supply of the commodity in the market.

Farmers are likely to get better prices if SFR starts the purchases as indicated.