Maize price up to unlock stocks held by farmers

Workers pack maize into sacks last December. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Workers pack maize into sacks last December. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The government has raised the price of maize from farmers to Sh3,600 per bag to replenish the strategic grain reserve whose grain stocks are enough to feed the country for half a day, underling the current food crisis.

Official data in March indicated that farmers were holding nearly 10 million bags in their silos and bulked at the Sh3,000 per bag price offered by the government.

Agriculture Secretary Richard Lesiyampe on Thursday told Parliament that getting supplies from farmers would help in restocking the reserve while boosting farmers’ returns.

The reserve, which is expected to hold five million bags to cushion the country from food shortages, has been depleted by the recent release of 1,050, 000 bags to millers to help curb runaway flour prices.

It is currently holding about 50,000 bags, down from two million in June.

This means the State will turn to imports should it need maize for relief purposes given the weakened position of the grain reserve held at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).

“We are ready to have any maize from any Kenyan at a price of Sh3,600 per 90 kg bag,” he told the Agriculture committee that sought to know government interventions on shortage of the staple.

The cost of a 2kg packet of maize flour had dropped from a high of Sh153 last month to Sh120 a fortnight ago following government intervention to release grain from NCPB.

This forced the government into a Sh6 billion subsidy plan which lowered flour prices to Sh90 a packet.

The rising maize flour price and has become a political headache for President Uhuru Kenyatta as he seeks a second term in the August elections.

He is running against Opposition leader Raila Odinga who has used the high cost of living to portray the government as incompetent.