Maize prices have eased 10 percent as speculators respond to the government directive on planned imports, forcing traders who have been hoarding to release stocks.
A 90 kilogramme bag of maize is now selling at Sh3,000 from Sh3,500 a fortnight ago when tight supply had sparked price jump.
Mr Ken Nyagah, chairman of the United Grain Millers Association, said there was an increase in supplies since the announcement on imports was made by the Ministry of Agriculture two weeks ago.
“The prices have now come down in a span of two weeks since the news that the country will allow imports broke,” said Mr Nyagah.
The government has allowed millers to import two million bags of maize to curb the deficit expected in June. The imports are expected between April 20 and May 30.
The price of maize has remained high since the beginning of the year with a 90 kilogramme bag selling at Sh3,000 at the farm gate, compared with Sh1,800 during a similar period last year.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya last week urged farmers to take advantage of the good prices to release stocks before they come crashing when imports arrive.
“We want to tell those who are hoarding maize to release [stocks] now to the market before the prices start coming down,” said Mr Munya.
However, a farmers’ lobby denied claims of hoarding, saying the prevailing good price made i impossible for growers to take the risk.
“It doesn’t make any sense that farmers would be hording at this time. It is a costly affair for them to do that as it costs them up to Sh60 per bag in a month to preserve, and so most of them would rather sell,” said Mr Anthony Kioko, chief executive officer of Cereal Millers Growers Association.
Mr Kioko said with a bag of maize at close to Sh3,000 at far gate, every farmer would want to release stock as soon as possible.
The State anticipates that the current stocks of maize will last until June, hence need for imports to curb possible rise in price of flour, that are at the moment retailing at Sh130 for a two kilogramme packet.