NCPB struggling to buy maize as millers offer better prices amid low supply
What you need to know:
- President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua have urged farmers who are still keeping maize to release it before the arrival of 4 million bags of duty-free maize into the country
- Nation. Africa established that most farmers in the North Rift, have already sold their maize
- Most small scale farmers in the region sold the produce in January after the government announced plans to import duty-free maize last month
The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) is struggling to buy maize from farmers amid stiff competition from millers, who have increased their purchase prices to between Sh5,800 and Sh6,200.
The government agency has only bought an estimated 43,000 bags the past three weeks at Sh5,600 per 90-kilogramme bag, citing low supply on the market.
The World Food Programme (WFP) bought more than 50,000 bags though NCPB, offering Sh2,830 per 50-kilogramme bag.
President William Ruto and his deputy Rigathi Gachagua have urged farmers who are still keeping maize to release it before the arrival of four million bags of duty-free maize into the country.
“We have purchased about 43,000 bags and there is a slow supply of the produce to our buying centres,” said Mr Gilbert Rotich, the NCPB North Rift manager.
Most small scale farmers in the region sold the produce in January after the government announced plans to import 10 million bags of duty-free maize last month to meet the deficit.
“Our facilities are open and we want farmers to come and transact with us. There is no delay as we pay immediately through M-Pesa,” said NCPB Managing Director Joseph Kimote, while disclosing a review of its prices from Sh5,100 to Sh5,600 per 90Kg bag.
“We have given farmers enough time to sell their produce, your time is up now. In about three to four weeks, we will have imported about four million bags of maize and another two million bags of rice and beans to stabilise our food supply,” said President Ruto.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the country has less than six million bags of maize that can last up to the end of this March.
“The entry of NCPB in the market purchasing the produce at Sh5,600 per 90 kilogrammes is too good, too late, since most farmers sold the produce to traders and millers after the government issued a notice to import duty-free maize from February to August this year,” said Mr Joel Too from Ziwa, Uasin Gishu County.
Nation. Africa established that most farmers in the North Rift, the country’s food basket, have already sold their maize.
“Most small and large scale farmers in the region have sold their maize and whatever they have is for domestic consumption,” said Mr Kipkorir Menjo, Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) director.
Flour prices continue to remain high, with a two-kilogramme packet of flour selling at between Sh200 and Sh220, depending on the brand. Prices are likely to increase due to the deteriorating supply of maize.
“Consumers should brace for tough times and a further increase in unga prices in the event the imported maize lands in the country at above Sh6,000 per 90Kg as demanded by the millers,” said Ms Grace Kosgei, a hotelier in Eldoret.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Kenya has imported an average of 295,092 tonnes of maize annually over the past five years.
Millers and consumers said the much-hyped imported maize will translate to a ‘minimum’ reduction in the cost of the staple due to challenges in the sourcing of the grains to sustain crushing operations.