Prices for dry maize start appreciating in North Rift

Peter Lopeyok a 36-year-old maize farmer from Barina. [Harun Wathari/Standard]

The price of dry maize has gone up to Sh3,000 per 90kg bag in the North Rift. Demand for the grain by traders in the informal market and millers has increased in the past few weeks, to the benefit of farmers still holding onto their produce.

“We anticipate prices of maize to hit a high of Sh3,200 per 90kg bag in the next few days. Businessmen who transport maize to Nairobi offer the competitive prices and farmers are paid their cash in less than two days,” Jackson Kwambai, a farmer in Moiben told The Standard yesterday.

A spot check in Eldoret town showed that there was low activity in the usually busy open areas adjacent to local millers and where maize trade used to flourish as the commodity diminishes in supply.

“As the prices improve, farmers who still have stocks in their stores are now keeping them for sale in future when prices will be higher,” Mr Kwambai said.

Until last week, farmers were up in arms, accusing the Government of frustrating the maize sub-sector. They had complained of poor prices of Sh2,500 per 90kg bag offered by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB). The board had also restricted farmers to supply a maximum of 400 bags.

Farmers have cited delayed pay for supplied grain and failure to offer subsidies to empower producers to plant for the next season.

Early this year, the Government directed NCPB to buy 2 million bags of maize from farmers to replenish the Strategic Grain Reserves.

Kwambai said due to the frustrations, a majority of farmers sold their grain for as low as Sh1,500 per bag to meet their immediate financial needs, including paying school fees and medical bills.

“Some farmers feared to supply their produce to NCPB due to delays in payment. Most farmers who supplied to the board in 2017 had to wait for about a year to receive their pay,” said Kwambai.

He said owing to the drought, a 2kg tin of dry maize was retailing at Sh100 in Bungoma and Sh80 in Uasin Gishu.

Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) Director Kipkorir Menjo told The Standard that farmers now want to buy maize from NCPB, a situation that normally happens a few weeks to maize harvest time around July and August.

“We urge farmers who still have maize stocks to release them to millers because the situation is now serious. We do not want to be put in a Mexico II situation, which is now imminent,” said Menjo.

“In case of need for importation, farmers should be involved. We do not want to have a situation that will lead to a glut and poor pricing for maize.”

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