Boon for maize farmers as 90-kg bag fetches Sh5,000

Farmers sorting maize before shelling at Wei Wei irrigation scheme in Sigor, West Pokot County. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

Maize prices have maintained a high of over Sh5,000 per 90kg bag in most parts of the North Rift region.

In Eldoret town, farmers are enjoying the dividends of hard work as they sell their produce to local millers at prices between Sh5,000 and Sh5,300, depending on the condition of the grains.

The sale of maize in the region has been motivated by among other factors, the need for resources by families for Christmas and New Year festivities, preparations for the school opening and the recent 72-hour ultimatum issued by Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria.

According to some producers, many farmers are afraid that with the announcement by the State of plans to import GMO maize, prices could reduce at any time, hence the rush by farmers who have harvested and shelled their maize to reap the prevailing prices.

"The quantities of maize supplies to millers in Eldoret is currently high. A 90-kg bag is going for as high as Sh5,300, compared to Sh2,000 and Sh2,500 during the same period last year," said Thomas Boen, a farmer from Kosachei in Uasin Gishu County.

Boen who supplied about 250 bags of maize yesterday to an Eldoret-based miller said the high cost of inputs during the planting season, and reduced maize production are attributed to the current market prices.

"It's a good deal for farmers who are currently selling their produce. It's also our prayer that planned imports will not tamper with prices of local produce," he said.

Ben Sirma, another farmer from Soy, said maize business in Eldoret is currently lucrative with hundreds of thousands of bags of maize exchanging hands between farmers, traders and millers every week.

"The 72-hour ultimatum to farmers to dispose of their produce is partly the reason for high stocks in the market. Most of the small-scale farmers have already sold off their maize while the medium and large scale stocks are currently in the market," said Sirma.

He said the current price is reasonable but expressed fear of exploitation by some players in the market, who take advantage of the high supply of grains to reduce expenses.

Paul Kerich, also a farmer in Nandi urged the government to intervene and ensure weighing scales used by traders conform to the set standards to avoid losses to farmers.

"Weighing scales should be the required standards," said the farmer, who also urged the government to provide subsidised fertiliser to enable farmers to prepare for the next season.