Kenya: North Rift Wheat Farmers Cry Foul as Cheap Imports Flood Market

Wheat growers in the North Rift are calling on the government to increase the duty imposed on imported wheat from the current 10 per cent to 35 per cent to cushion them as the country stares at reduced production this season.

A spot check by the Nation in the country's traditional food basket shows many wheat farmers have reduced acreage under the crop.

Mr Johnson Murei from Moiben in Uasin Gishu County said he has planted wheat on 50 acres of land compared to 120 acres last season due to high production costs and poor prices.

"Last season, I struggled to sell my wheat due to the cheap imports. For us to continue growing the crop, we need better prices," said Mr Murei, who has planted 180 acres of commercial maize and 120 acres of seed maize on his farm.

High cost of chemicals

He said the high cost of chemicals and other inputs have pushed up the cost of production to Sh40,000 per acre, making the venture less profitable. To break even, he said, farmers want the price to go up to Sh4,000 as opposed to the Sh2,800 per 90-kilogramme bag offered by traders and millers.

Mr George Kibet said he reduced the acreage under the crop by 50 per cent this season. "Most millers have shunned locally produced wheat for cheap imports, leaving us at the mercy of brokers," he said.

Last season, many farmers were stuck with their produce as millers and traders bought the produce at Sh2,400 and 2,800, compared to maize, which was fetching between Sh3,400 and Sh3,600 per 90-kilogramme bag.

Reduced duty

"The government reduced duty on imported wheat to 10 per cent, making local millers to flood the local market with cheap imports," said Mr Kipkorir Menjo, a Kenya Farmers Association official.

Uasin Gishu Agriculture executive Samuel Yego said: "Last year, the acreage under wheat stood at 19,000ha but this year we are projecting 18,000ha, which translates to 616,000 bags of 90 kilos."

His Trans Nzoia counterpart Mary Nzomo said many farmers are opting to grow maize.

"Maize fetches better prices at Sh3,400 per 90kg bag," she said.

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