Kenya: Farmers Hang Onto Their Maize, Eye Better Prices

Farmers are holding onto 96 percent of the total stock of maize in the county, hoping to take advantage of higher prices in the coming months.

The food balance sheet report from the Ministry of Agriculture indicates that growers are holding 18 million bags of maize stocks out of 18.8 million bags, which has left millers facing a shortage of the grain, threatening higher flour prices for consumers.

The report indicates that millers and traders are in possession of 656,800 bags with National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) holding 150,000 bags.

NCPB is targeting to buy a million bags of maize from farmers.

Millers have recently complained that flow of stocks from local farmers has been dwindling, saying that the shortage will be acutely felt from May.

Wholesale price

The price of the commodity had been stabilised by supplies coming from Uganda with the report showing that a 90 kilogramme bag has been averaging at Sh2,625.

"From the markets reported, the average wholesale price of a 90 kilogramme bag of maize was Sh2,625. Farm gate prices are ranging between Sh2,000 to Sh2,200 in the major maize growing areas of North Rift and western regions," said the report.

Farmers have often complained that the prices on offer leave them facing losses due to high cost of production, while traders counter that the maize they get from farmers has high moisture levels that forces them to incur extra cost in drying the grain.

The recent tightening of conditions for maize imports coming in from Uganda and Tanzania has also disrupted the market, signalling higher prices in coming days.

Maize imports

Tanzanian and Ugandan maize supplements the available stocks given that the country does not produce enough to meet the annual requirements.

Kenya had last week barred maize imports from Uganda citing high levels of aflatoxin, but later lifted the blanket ban under enhanced conditions.

NCPB is grappling with financial challenges to buy maize from farmers after it exhausted its budget.

Last week the agency said it is waiting for more funds to resume purchases.

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