Maize harvest is projected at 46 million bags, reflecting a 30 per cent rise which is set to deliver cheaper flour but hurt farmers’ earnings.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said the harvest will rise from last year’s 36 million bags, breaking a trend where harvests have been declining since 2015. This points to an easing of the food crisis that has for the past two years forced Kenya to rely on imports to meet its needs for the staple food.
But the increased supply will hurt farmers who have seen the cost of the grain drop to below Sh1,500 a bag, from above Sh3,200 at the start of the year.
“We are expecting 46 million bags, up from the last harvesting season’s figure of 40 million bags,” said the CS in Nairobi on Tuesday, adding that the crop benefited from improved weather.
“The weather was very good. We campaigned for farmers to plant more maize, and gave subsidies like subsidised fertiliser in counties like Trans Nzoia, which recorded a 25 per cent increase in production,” he said. Mr Kiunjuri said the harvest will stabilise prices and boost food security.
Maize flour prices have dipped to a six-year low on increased supply of cheap grains from Uganda and harvests in western Kenya, easing inflationary pressure.
A two-kilogramme packet of some flour brands retails at Sh86, a rate last witnessed in 2012 and is below the withdrawn subsidized price of Sh90.
All brands of maize flour, with the exception of Jogoo, are now trading at less than Sh90, a relief to consumers. A two-kilo packet of Kifaru retails at Sh86, Jimbi Sh84, and Soko Sh88.
All these brands were retailing at a high of Sh110 in April. The cost of Hostess, a premium brand, has also dropped to Sh130 from Sh140. Maize deficit last year raised the cost of a two-kilo packet of flour to a high of Sh153. Cheap maize will ease pressure on inflation, which rose to 4.04pc last month.