The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has opened its stores to purchase maize from farmers.
NCPB will receive supplies that meet the conditions for required quality parameters and only from farmers registered with the Ministry of Agriculture across the country.
The latest development is expected to stabilize maize prices that had dropped to as low as Sh3,400 in parts of the North Rift, where traders and middlemen have flocked after harvesting hit its peak.
NCPB Corporate Affairs Manager Titus Maiyo, told The Standard yesterday that the board will procure maize at Sh4,000 per 90 kg bag and farmers will receive payment upon delivery of produce.
“NCPB opened its stores effect from Friday last week, and farmers can bring in their maize harvests as long as it meets quality parameters,” stated Mr Maiyo.
He said the cereals board offers subsidized drying charges of Sh70 per 90 kg bag to dry grains to the required standard of 13.5 per cent moisture content.
“Farmers can deliver their grains that are within moisture content of below 18 per cent to silos that have drying facilities. Drying services are subsidized, and farmers can pay Sh70 for a 90 kg bag to have grains dried to 13.5 per cent moisture content,” said Maiyo.
In the North Rift region, driers are available in silos in Kitale, Mois Bridge and Eldoret. The official said other depots that do not have driers will strictly receive produce at 13.5 per cent moisture content to ensure safety quality at storage.
A source who spoke on condition of anonymity said yesterday that there was a good response from farmers, and 1,500 bags of 90 kgs were supplied to NCPB stores in North Rift on Friday.
A section of farmers welcomed the move to open NCPB stores, saying it will help stabilize prices in the market.
“The price of Sh4,000 offered by NCPB will help stabilize prices and curb exploitation by traders and middlemen, who have been offering low prices. We expect traders to offer better rates now,” said Samy Chemweno, a cereals' farmer from Moiben.
Chemweno also said cartels would be locked out from selling produce to the cereals board through the requirement that all suppliers should be farmers registered in the ministry.
Tom Nyagechanga, the Kenya National Farmers Federation (Kenaff) Commodity representative in Trans Nzoia county, urged NCPB to open buying centres at the sub-county level to ease supply costs for farmers.
“Distant NCPB depots discourage farmers from supplying their produce. Traders are taking advantage of the situation and offer farmers Sh3,800 for a 90 kg bag of maize at the doorstep,” noted Nyagenchanga.
He said some farmers who have already harvested and shelled their grains would prefer to store them until next year, as they anticipate prices to improve in the market.
“Some farmers anticipate maize prices to appreciate in the coming months. They prefer to hold on to the produce rather than selling to NCPB or traders at current prices,” said Nyagechanga.
The NCPB recently called on farmers and stakeholders in the cereals industry to utilize facilities offered by the cereals board to manage grain storage for quality standards.
The board noted that producers achieved improved yield in the current season and announced that its drying and storage facilities were available for players in the sector to manage grain storage to curb post-harvest losses.
In a statement signed by Maiyo on behalf of NCPB Managing Director Joseph Kimote, the board said the facilities will curb the wastage of harvests to enable farmers gain better earnings and safeguard the country’s food security.
“NCPB is calling on farmers and other interested parties to utilize its facilities to meet their grain post-harvest needs. The board is offering grain drying, aflatoxin testing and grain grading, general warehousing and Warehouse Receipt System (WRS), pest control services (fumigation and spraying), weighing and bagging and standardization at competitive rates,” read the statement.
The board announced that the services are available in NCPB silos and selected deports at affordable rates.
“Farmers and other interested parties are encouraged to inquire from the nearest NCPB depot on the availability of the services and the attendant charges,” stated Maiyo.