Brokers pitch tent in Trans Nzoia as maize prices drop by half

Maize prices have dropped from Sh8,000 to Sh4,000. [File, Standard]

Trans Nzoia Governor George Natembeya has warned farmers against selling maize at throwaway prices.

In the last couple of weeks, brokers have invaded the county, leading to a drop in maize prices from Sh8,000 to Sh4,000 as farmers expect a bumper harvest.

However, most farmers said the current high cost of living will force many to dispose of the produce to meet financial obligations.

Middlemen from as far as Mombasa and Nairobi have pitched tent in maize-growing regions to buy the crop.

In some areas, desperate farmers have opted to sell maize at throwaway prices to pay fees and provide their children's requirements.

A spot check by The Standard showed farmers were in a hurry to sell their harvest, saying they have pressing financial needs to attend to.

Those interviewed said financial challenges have forced them to sell the crop at low prices.

“Children are returning to school, and the only means to raise money to buy requirements and pay fees is to sell the maize at the current market rate,” said George Wafula, a small-scale farmer in Saboti.

He said there is a ready market for the crop since buyers collect the produce from their homes.

“We have no option but to dispose of the maize and get money to meet our financial needs, and the buyers are available, and they collect the crop from our homes,” Wafula told The Standard.

Agriculture Executive Phanice Khatundi said about five million bags are expected to be harvested this season.

Fredrick Rono, a large-scale farmer in the county, said economic challenges have compelled many to sell the crop at poor prices.

“Most farmers, especially small-scale farmers, will not store the harvest for long since they are faced with financial challenges. They have to sell the crop to sort out their basic needs,” said Rono.

Natembeya urged farmers to avoid selling their maize at throwaway prices because the market is promising.

“I appeal to farmers not to sell their crop at throwaway prices. We expect the price to drop, and it is good to store the crop,” he advised.

He said it is uneconomical for a farmer to invest heavily and sell the produce cheaply to heartless cartels.

He said it was wrong for cartels to take advantage of the farmers and reap where they did not sow.

“These people come and buy maize for as cheap as Sh2,000 per bag. They sell the same later at Sh5,000 and make an abnormal profit. I don't want to see this happening here,” said Natembeya.

A two-kilogramme tin, commonly known as gorogoro, which was being sold at Sh200 a few weeks ago, now goes for Sh80 in some places. 

“Don't sell your maize if you don't have a pressing issue like school fees,” the governor advised.