MPs send away officials over Sh2, 300 maize prices

MPs yesterday ordered a State agency to provide a report on what informed a decision to buy maize at Sh2, 300 per 90kg bag.

This came on the backdrop of protests by farmers who say the price is too low.

“We need a scientific report backed by numbers and the areas you bench marked that led to the conclusion of setting up the price of Sh2, 300,” National Assembly Agriculture Committee Chairman Adan Haji (Mandera South) told Strategic Food Reserve Fund board chairman Noah Wekesa.

The committee accused Mr Wekesa of frustrating farmers by setting a low price.

“Let it be known to you that the price we are expecting is nothing less than Sh3,200,” Kwanza MP Ferdinand Wanyonyi told Wekesa.

The committee said protests against the price was an indication that the board was operating without engaging farmers.

But Wekesa, a former MP for Kwanza, said the new price was guided by the Agriculture ministry’s policy guidelines that include prevailing local maize prices, local production and regional supplies.

Other factors that informed the Sh2,300 for a 90kg bag are costs of farm inputs and negative impacts of natural calamities, he said.

“Maize availability should be considered as higher domestic price discourage private sector from buying local maize and opt for imports. It is therefore recommended that the purchase price should not differ significantly from the parity prices,” he explained.

He said the ministry conducted a survey in February in Bungoma, Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu to come up with the price.

Small and medium scale commercial farmers were interviewed.

The second survey, Wekesa said, were done by Cereal and Enhanced Programme project and the department of crops in July and August, while the third study was conducted by Tegemeo Institute in September.

According to the findings, the maize was in February sold at an average price of Sh1,600. The produce retailed at Sh1,640 and Sh1,376 in August and September respectively.

Rongai MP Raymond Moi on Monday said the price should be increased to Sh3,600 to cushion farmers from losses.

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State agencymaize scandalmaize pricesstrategic food reserveNational Assembly Agriculture Committee