Kenya's maize brokers who have been hoarding huge stocks of last year’s harvest, in anticipation of an increase in prices, may not realise their expectations as cheaper imports from Uganda flood the market.
The brokers are estimated to be holding about three million bags of maize from last year, in anticipation of demand pushing up prices. Demand for maize in Kenya is usually high from April to June, and the prices rise to Sh4,500 ($44) per 90kg bag.
Since the start of this year, Uganda has exported over 400 tonnes of maize to Kenya. An agreement between East African Community member states provides a liberalised market allowing the flow of agricultural goods across the region, duty free.
The maize from Uganda will help stabilise Kenyan prices, which are currently at Sh3,900 ($38) in Mombasa and Sh3,700 ($36) for a 90kg bag in Nairobi.
The cost of agricultural production in Uganda is low compared with what Kenyan farmers have to spend on land tilling and harvesting.
Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo said the imports from Uganda will be a big disadvantage for farmers who would have sold their produce later this year.