Grain importation debate continues as farmers get good prices

Bags of Maize at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) warehouse in Nakuru on March 15, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The debate on maize importation continues even as farmers in the country's grain basket reap good prices from the produce.

It is peak harvesting season in the North Rift with some farmers who have concluded the process selling maize at their doorsteps at between Sh5,000 and Sh5,500 per bag.

In Trans Nzoia, some farmers who were said to be hoarding maize harvested during the previous season are now reaping big by capitalising on the new rates for the crop harvested a few weeks ago.

Statistics from the county government show that farmers in Trans Nzoia harvested 5.6 million bags of dry maize and most of it is still lying in the stores.

Fredrick Ronoh, a maize farmer in Trans Nzoia said there is a need for farmers to sell their produce early instead of speculating about a hike in prices.

"Farmers should sell their produce instead of waiting for the GMO maize to be imported by the national government to flood the market," he said.

David Situma, a farmer in Chepchoina along the Kenya-Uganda border said traders from Uganda were a bag of maize at Sh5,000 buying from Kenyan farmers.

He said the maize is transported to Uganda, where it is milled, packaged and exported to South Sudan.

In Uasin Gishu, some farmers, especially those who farm on a large scale are still harvesting even as confusion in the grain sector reigns with some producers unsure whether to dispose of at the current rates.

"I have just started harvesting in Kitale and I will move to Uasin Gishu. I expect a good harvest in the current season," said Kimutai Kolum, a large-scale maize farmer from Soy.

Kolum said they spent heavily on the current crop due to the high cost of fertiliser that retailed at Sh7,000 per 50 kg bag and cost of mechanical operations was high due to the price of fuel. He is among farmers who fear importation of maize would affect market prices after the harvesting season.

"We have harvested and we are currently selling to traders who buy at doorsteps since National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) stores are still closed," said Joab Kosgei, a maize and wheat farmer from Moiben.