Maize farmers have shunned National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) following a sharp increase in market prices, meaning the agency has only purchased a fraction of its requirement.
NCPB acting managing director Albin Sang confirmed to the Business Daily that they are no longer getting stocks of maize from farmers since the market prices went up.
The government has been buying grain from farmers at Sh2,500 for a 90-kilo bag while market prices have shot up to Sh3,200.
“I can confirm that we are not getting any stocks from farmers since last week. Growers have opted to sell their crop to the market after the prices rocketed,” said Mr Sang.
Mr Sang added that the board had so far purchased 420,000 bags out of the targeted two million.
Mr Sang said NCPB had talked to a number of farmers and discovered they were holding maize as they wait for the prices to increase before releasing into the market.
Chief Administrative Secretary in the ministry of Agriculture Andrew Tuimur also confirmed the low NCPB purchases, noting that millers had emerged as the biggest buyers.
“With good prices and prompt payment (from millers), it is now difficult for NCPB to get maize from growers,” said Dr Tuimur.
Dr Tuimur said some farmers could be keeping stocks for use next year in anticipation that a dry season is going to impact on food production in 2020.
“Basing on the current situation where rains have failed, some farmers will store grain for use next year in fear of a poor production this season,” he said.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said a week ago that there are 21 million bags of maize in the country with NCPB being in possession of 4.3 million bags, which is sufficient to last the country a month.
He said that households are estimated to be holding 13 million bags, representing 61 percent of the total produce. Traders have three million bags while millers are in possession of 680,588 bags, which is just three percent of the available stocks.