The Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) has increased the price of cheap maize that it is selling to millers by 17 per cent or Sh400 more per bag in what could have little effect in lowering flour prices.
Making the announcement Tuesday, SFR Oversight Board chairman Noah Wekesa said the government would release the stocks to millers at Sh2,700 for a 90-kilo bag of maize.
The new price is up from Sh2,300 that the board sold the produce to millers in July when it released two million bags of the commodity to the processors. A 90-kilo bag of the produce in the market is currently going at Sh3,300.
“The Strategic Food Reserve has resolved to release to the market through registered millers and posho mills as per laid down regulations 1.93 million bags of maize immediately the cabinet approval for the recommended selling price of Sh2,700 is received,” said Dr Wekesa
The move implies that consumer will still have to pay Sh123 for a two-kilo packet of maize flour, which has been in steep rise since April after increasing from a low of Sh85 in January.
Dr Wekesa said the release of these stocks would increase the supply of the produce in the market, stabilising the consumer prices of flour.
He said the harvest of maize is expected to start in some parts of the country and that the grain is expected in the market in the next two months.
Parts of the South Rift and western Kenya are getting ready to harvest maize, supplementing the stocks in the market.
This means the State-backed maize reserve will run empty with the release of the nearly two million bags to millers from this week, weakening the government’s hand in dealing with food shortages.
Dr Wekesa says they want to empty the reserve in a bid to lower flour prices and replace the emergency buffer with new grains once farmers start harvesting from September.