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Market News

State to buy Mwea rice starting January

Rice growers in Mwea
Rice growers in Mwea, Kirinyaga, prepare their farms. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The government will start buying Mwea rice as part of strategic food reserve starting next January.

Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri said a joint committee has been formed to establish mode of engagement between the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) and farmers in Kirinyaga County on the issue.

The engagement will include government announcing seasonal prices just like it does with maize.

Mwea MP Kabinga wa Thayu said the long awaited move will stabilise the rice sector in Kirinyaga County, loosening the grip brokers have on the sector.

Mr Thayu said every harvesting period the area “swarms with brokers whose greed for quick profits is unequalled”.

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He said the brokers take advantage of farmers’ poor bargaining power.

“Today you hear a kilo of top quality rice is being bought at the farm-gate at Sh100 when the price is supposed to be Sh180. Tomorrow the price has gone down to Sh50 and eventually to Sh30. Middlemen are a county tragedy for our rice farmers but with NCPB market window now open, our farmers can breathe easy,” he said.

Mwea scheme is the largest in East and Central Africa with an average 4,500 farmers who produce 80 percent of the rice consumed in Kenya. Kenya produces 130 metric tonnes of rice compared to the 500 metric tonnes consumption.

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