By Zablon Oyugi
The Government is planning to buy 4million 90kg bags of maize from farmers during the ongoing harvesting season at Ksh4,000 per bag, determined through a computation of production costs.
Speaking in Nairobi during the launch of the Kenya Dairy Industry Sustainability Roadmap 2023 – 2033 on Friday last week, Mithika Linturi, the Cabinet Secretary (CS) in the ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, cautioned against pressure on farmers to sell below this rate, labeling such actions as ‘exploitation that the Kenya Kwanza Government discourages’.
“The Government’s ongoing fertiliser subsidy is expected to lower the cost of maize production by around 30 per cent, leading to more affordable maize and Unga prices,” said the CS.
Government to use warehouse receipting system during purchase
He said that during the purchase, the Government will be using the Warehouse Receipt System (WRS), which will enable farmers to store maize in warehouses, obtain a receipt, and later redeem the equivalent quantity at any National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) warehouse nationwide.
Prices of the 90kg bag of maize had gone up due to the poor performance of the 2022 long rains in most parts of the country, coupled with below-average yields. This resulted in the production of 34.6 million bags compared to 36.8 million bags in 2021.
Following this, the prices of maize per 90kg bag increased from Sh2,500 to Sh2,850 in January 2022 to Sh3,900 to Sh4,000 in April and then rose to unprecedented highs of between Sh6,000 and Sh6,500 per 90kg bag in July 2022.
The CS also noted the availability of funding at the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) with interest rates below 10 per cent.
Reiterating the Government’s commitment to food security, he shared that an additional 200,000 acres have been opened for food production and expressed satisfaction with the Government’s support, noting that farmers are returning to their fields, albeit faster than anticipated.
Acknowledging the challenge of insufficient high-quality seeds due to increased farming activities, Linturi explained measures taken for future seed production on ADC land.
He assured industry stakeholders that, with concerted government efforts, hard work from farmers, and industry stakeholders, Kenya is poised to achieve food sufficiency within the next 18 months.