If last year ended badly for maize farmers, 2019 could be better, producers say, after diesel prices went down.
The falling fuel prices as a result of decreasing cost of crude oil and the stabilising of the shilling against the dollar is promising low production costs for farmers who have in the last one year been a desperate lot.
“The cost of running machinery for farm preparation is expected to reduce due to the fall in diesel prices and the gaining of the shilling against the dollar will impact positively on cultivation of mechanised food crops such as maize and wheat,” said David Kosgei, a large-scale farmer from Sergoit, Uasin Gishu County.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said over the next one month, diesel will fetch Sh103.95, petrol Sh105.74 and kerosene Sh103.41 in Eldoret to the relief of grain farmers.
“Diesel is the strength of our crop production and the government needs to lower the prices even further to reflect the falling crude oil prices to safeguard us from other operating costs like maintenance of our tractors and cost of seeds and fertiliser,” said Miriam Too, from Cherang’any, Trans-Nzoia County.
It costs a farmer an estimated Sh35,000 to cultivate an acre of maize with expected return of about Sh96,000 under favourable market conditions.
“The high production cost due to increased fuel prices and taxation on herbicides will make farming more difficult,” said Juliana Koech from Saos, Nandi County while terming the fall in diesel prices a big relief to most farmers.
According to research by Tegemeo Institute, it costs small farmer about Sh2,150 to produce a 90kg bag of maize, which remains high as compared to the current market price of the produce.
The National Cereals and Produce Board is offering Sh2,500 for 90 kilogrammes bag of maize while the produce is going at Sh1,800 in retail markets in the region.
Maize prices in the North Rift region have, however, increased from Sh1,500 to Sh1,800 after President Uhuru Kenyatta last week ordered the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to start buying the crop. The board offered Sh3,200 per 90kg last season.