Maize production will fall sharply following delayed rains that has affected planting, setting stage for expensive grain in 2019.
Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) in the Ministry of Agriculture Andrew Tuimur said farming calendar had been disrupted, with growers who had already planted counting losses.
Dr Tuimur said farmers who did dry planting weeks back have been hard hit as the crop has wilted while uneven germination has been reported in key growing zones.
“Maize production will be hard hit this year because of the delayed rains in most parts of the country,” said Dr Tuimur in an interview Wednesday.
Officials at the ministry and the counties have been in the field monitoring the situation since last month, he said.
The Meterological Department had forecasted rains would start at the end of last month but that failed to happen.
Ideally, farmers in the breadbasket of Uasin Gishu and Trans-Nzoia would be weeding or top dressing their crop by this time but late onset of rains has seen delay ploughing.
Maize shortage is already being witnessed in the country, pointing to bleak future in the months to come. The shortage in supply has impacted on the prices with a 90-kilo bag trading at Sh2,700 up from Sh2,300 last month.
National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has been struggling to acquire the number of bags it needs to purchase from farmers for the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) since the exercise began in February.
As at last week, NCPB had only purchased 20 percent of the required two million bags to stock the reserves.
Dr Tuimur said the board had so far bought 418,000 bags of 90 kilos by Monday signifying that growers are holding onto their crop.
The government announced last month that there were 46 million bags of maize in the country. The stocks are held by agencies such as relief bodies, NCPB, millers and farmers.
NCPB has capped the purchase of maize at 400 bags per farmer as the government moves to tame traders and large-scale holders who have been accused of abusing the window at the expense of small-scale growers.