Maize harvest hit 40.9 million bags this year, reflecting a 20 per cent rise which is set to deliver cheaper flour and hurt farmers’ earnings.
The Strategic Food Reserve Oversight Board (SFROB), a State agency, said the harvest rose from last year’s 34 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 has hurt farmers who have seen the cost of the grain drop to below Sh1,500 per bag on the market and Sh2,300 at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).
A bag was retailing at Sh3,200 at the start of the year. “Production increased by 20 per cent from the normal 34 million bags to 40.9 million,” SFROB said in a statement to Parliament last week.
“Consequently, due to adequate supplies the price of maize is forecasted to remain relatively low… available maize will be sufficient to cover national demand up to June 2019.” This will remove the need for imports. Last year Kenya shipped in maize worth Sh40.2 billion, up from Sh3.6 billion in 2016.
Maize flour prices have dipped to a six-year low on increased supply of cheap grain from Uganda and Tanzania as well as local harvests, easing inflationary pressure.