The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has requested Sh10 billion to purchase maize for the Strategic Food Reserve in the current financial year to restock the depleted grain stocks at the facility.
If given the allocation, it will mark the first time in the last three years that the government will be buying maize from farmers under the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) programme, which was suspended in 2019.
NCPB managing director Joseph Kimote said the proposal is currently being considered by the National Treasury.
NCPB has not been buying maize since 2020 on behalf of the government for SFR. It has, however, been purchasing commercial maize for trading using internally generated funds.
The Ministry of Agriculture made the proposal to Parliament last week on behalf of the board.
“The National Food Reserve stocks currently stands at zero thus the need for immediate buildup of requisite stocks to address the precarious food and nutrition security status,” the Ministry of Agriculture told lawmakers who were collecting views on the 2022 Budget Policy Statement.
The board could, however, face an uphill task in getting the required stocks of maize given that farmers have been hoarding the produce in anticipation of a higher price in future.
Currently, the price of a 90 kilo bag of maize has hit Sh3,500 from a low of Sh2,800 in December occasioned by a tight supply in the market.
The board was forced to review its price last year in December from Sh2,700 to Sh3,000 to woo farmers to sell them their produce.
NCPB generates internal funds through provision of services to farmers and both private and public entities to meet its financial needs.
It offers storage facilities at competitive rates to farmers to generate an additional income.