By Rodgers Omondi
Kenya is set to harvest 1.3 million bags of wheat this year. As a result, the government through the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) has set the price at Sh5,200 per 90kg bag for grade 1 wheat, Sh5,100 for grade 2, and a willing-seller-willing-buyer price basis for grade 3 that has a bushel weight of below 75.
According to the Principal Secretary, State Department for Crop Development through Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Kello Harsama, the amount is “enough to feed the country for one year.” Speaking at a consultative meeting with members of Nyanza Professionals in his office in Nairobi, the PS added that the “Government subsidized fertilizer has been attributed to this increase in yields.”
However, several Kenyan farmers are divided on the pronouncement by the government official. While a section of Kenyans was enthusiastic about the information, some critics are skeptical of what it means, noting that considering the cost of production, the current metric by AFA would not make economic sense to the common farmer.
According to Mr. John Kamau, a local farmer, the announcement was appositive move for wheat farmers. “We will appreciate any positive move…, we have seen the Galana maize project and indeed it will increase maize production” The farmer also noted that before the Galana project, he was not happy seeing maize being imported from neighboring countries of Tanzania and Uganda.
Following the announcement, Mr. Nicholas W. Robert, a local farmer stated that, “The cost of production has not been factored in because whatever they have set can’t be factual, unless they factored (it) from the demand and supply chain point”.
According to the Economic Survey 2023, the country consumed 2.1 million tonnes of wheat as food as at 12th June, 2023 against a production of 400,000 tonnes.
The national consumption in the previous year stood at 2.2 million tonnes per year, translating to 183k tonnes per month. In 2021, the production was 271,000 metric tonnes. 1.3 million bags of grade 1 wheat, therefore, will translate to 117,000 tonnes.
This comes at a time when the president. H.E Dr. William Ruto challenged the government cabinet secretaries to be pioneers of positive change. I interact with many of you and I ask you questions on projects and I find most of you don’t even know what is going on in your ministry or departments. You have very scarce information. The moment I know more than you in your ministry… then something is very wrong because by constitution, you are supposed to advise me,” said the president.