Maize prices have continued to drop gradually in Kitale as preparation for the Christmas season kicks in.
The decline in price has been blamed on the continued heavy rains that have characterised huge post-harvest losses.
Some farmers who lack proper storage facilities are selling their grains hurriedly to avoid losses due to high humidity during the rainy season.
A survey by The Standard indicated that a 90-kg bag that previously sold at Sh3,000, now fetches Sh2,600, with fears that it might drop further. This has seen the middlemen take advantage of the challenges facing farmers to dictate the market price.
Delays in the opening of the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) for the current season crop has also exposed farmers to massive exploitation.
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Small scale farmers hit by lack of storage facilities and facing other financial obligations are forced to sell their produce at lower prices as set by traders.
“I have been forced to sell our maize to avoid more post-harvest losses since NCPB has not started buying the crop,’’ said Fredrick Rono.
“The State is insensitive to the plight of maize farmers. The State has exposed us to exploitation by traders,’’ he added.
Some farmers are selling their maize to plan for the Christmas celebrations and also raise money for their children's school fees at the beginning of next year.
“I have disposed of part of my harvest to meet the Christmas requirements as well as to get money to pay fees for my children,’’ said Francis Koti.
Tom Nyagechaga, the secretary-general of the Kenya National Federation of Farmers, blamed the national government for the price drop, saying the delay in opening the NCPB stores had opened windows to middlemen to exploit farmers.
Heavy rains have also frustrated farmers who are yet to harvest their crops.