The farm gate prices of freshly harvested maize have shot up 77 percent, officials have said, highlighting the distorting effect of the current market shortage on prices.
Farmers who previously offered their maize to traders at Sh1,800 have increased the rates to Sh3,200 per 90kg bags as harvesting starts in parts of the Rift Valley.
Farmer gate prices do not include the margins that traders and other intermediaries load up along the way as the maize heads to millers and other market outlets.
The high prices have raised fears that the country’s Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) might be starved of grains this year as farmers seek improved earnings.
Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur said with a bag going for Sh3,200, it might be difficult for National Cereal and Produce Board (NCPB) to get maize from farmers.
The stocks at the SFR were depleted this year after the government released the produce to cool off high flour prices. “SFR will have a challenge in getting maize from this season’s crop as there is an attractive price already at the market and farmers will opt to sell to millers and traders other than NCPB,” said Dr Tuimur.
SFR board met last week to decide the price at which it should stock the emergency grain this year. In the last season, they offered farmers Sh3,200 per 90- kilogramme bag.
At Sh3,000, that traders are paying at the farm, this season’s harvests come across as one of the most expensive in a decade.