Maize prices drop as border trade booms

Maize farmers park their produce in bags after drying them for sale in Eldoret [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The recent bilateral talks between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian Counterpart Suluhu Hassan that eased cross border maize trade has seen a drastic drop in the produce prices.

Farmers in North Rift region claimed yesterday that there is an influx of maize grains from the Eastern Africa Community region that had seen a reduction in prices from Sh2,800 per 90 kg bag last month to Sh2,300 currently.

The cereals producers who held a meeting in Eldoret now want the Government to consider increasing allocations to Agriculture ahead of the National budgetary estimates expected to be jointly released next month in within the EAC member states.

They want the sector to be allocated at least 10 per cent of the national budget saying the gesture, would create an equal level playing ground in agribusiness within EAC member countries.

Farmers representatives including Uasin Gishu large scale farmers Thomas Korgoren, Barnabas Kibos, Kimutai Kolum and Kenya Farmers Association Director Kipkorir Menjo said an improved allocation to agriculture would assist address high cost of inputs, ease taxation of farm implements and machinery hence lowering operational costs. They said high agricultural production costs in the country was disadvantaging farmers from achieving good returns compared to their counterparts in the region who sell produce at lower prices.

The farmers said producing a 90 kg bag of maize in Kenya costs on average Sh2,800 hence by selling at Sh2,300 in the market amounts to a loss and that most farmers had been discouraged from venturing into agri-business.

“We have realised challenges in the agriculture sector due to underfunding in the National budget estimates. The cost of fuel, fertiliser, transport have gone up while taxes are still high. We urge the Government to consider increasing the budget for agriculture and also zero-rate taxes for inputs,” said Menjo.

He added: “The Government should create a conducive environment to enable local farmers to be competitive and reap from cross border trade that was recently harmonised by President Uhuru and Suluhu.”

Kolum urged MPs in agricultural regions to press for additional allocations to the Agriculture ministry to ease high cost of inputs.