Fear of looming maize shortage pushes price up
What you need to know:
- The millers are offering between Sh3,200 to Sh3,400 for a 90 kilo bag with some firms scaling down operations due to acute maize shortage.
- CAS Tuimur said that acreage under the crop reduced from 2.2 million hectares last year to 1.5 million this year.
The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has an uphill task buying maize from farmers due to lack of money and stiff competition from millers who are offering farmers attractive prices amid fears of a looming shortage of the staple crop.
Managers of the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) on Monday admitted that they might not realise the target of buying four million bags of maize this season after farmers opted to sell the produce to millers who are offering as high as Sh3,400 per 90 kilogramme bag.
“We are likely to buy three million bags of maize mainly from small-scale farmers due to insufficient funds, considering that millers and traders are offering high prices due to the projected shortage of the produce,” Dr Noah Wekesa, the SFR chairman, said.
The anticipated shortage of maize occasioned by a drop in production by 11 million bags last season has seen millers flock to markets in the North Rift region, the country’s food basket, in panic buying to stockpile the staple.
The millers are offering between Sh3,200 to Sh3,400 for a 90 kilo bag with some firms scaling down operations due to acute maize shortage.
Kitui and Mombasa millers as well as Unga Limited are among major milling firms which have pitched tent in the region to mob up the grain from farmers.
“Prices are likely to skyrocket to the advantage of the farmers due to low production last season caused by disease outbreak, drought and damage of the crop by rainfall during harvesting,” said Mr Kipnetich Mutai of Ineet Millers.
He said that millers were not receiving adequate supplies from Uganda due to high demand of the crop in East and Central Africa.
“Most Ugandan traders have opted to sell the crop to Tanzania, Dr Congo and South Sudan where it fetches more money,” Mr Mutai said.
“The rains have damaged several hectares of the crop posing a serious threat to the country’s food security,” Dr Wekesa said.
He expressed fear that the country might not realise the projected 33 million bags of maize this season due to post-harvest losses.
“The rains have resulted in rotting of the crop in farms, reversing anticipated gains this season,” said farmer Jackson Kosgei from Moiben, Uasin Gishu County.
According to Agriculture ministry Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur, maize production is projected to drop from 44 million bags realised last season to 33 million bags due to reduced acreage under the crop, prolonged drought during the planting season, repeated outbreaks of the dreaded fall army worm and post-harvest losses as.
He said that acreage under the crop reduced from 2.2 million hectares last year to 1.5 million this year.