Farmers, millers reject Sh2,300 offer for maize

Nicholas Waitathu and Winstone Chiseremi @PeopleDailyKe

Government’s plan to start buying 2.5 million bags of 90 kilogramme bag later this month for Sh2,300 is likely to kick a storm as some farmers and millers have rejected the rate saying it will allow cartels to continue thriving and rev up unga retail prices.

The Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund (SFRTF) oversight board announced the new rates yesterday, which are lower than last year’s Sh3,200, due a glut of the commodity.

The market is experiencing huge supply both from the small-scale farmers and the region. Our decision has taken into account the plight of the consumer,” Board chairman Noah Wekesa said.

He said the price was arrived at after an analysis and harmonisation of the cost of production which stands at Sh1, 800, according to a study carried out by the Tegemeo Institute of Agriculture Policy and Development of Egerton University.

Moments after the announcement, North Rift Governors yesterday reacted angrily saying the offer will discourage farmers from planting maize next season. Speaking in Eldoret town, led Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago, they said the least price they had expected was Sh2,500 per 90kg bag.

“The new price is extremely low and no serious farmer will go back to maize crop farming come next year,” said Khaemba. He was accompanied by Elgeyo Marakwet governor Alex Tolgos and his Trans Nzoia counterpart Patrick Khaemba.

New price

“There is need for the State to reconsider the decision,” said Mandago. According to millers, the new price will push the cost of unga up to between Sh90 and Sh100 for 2-kg packet. Currently, retailers are selling the commodity at between Sh78 and Sh85.

Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) director Kipkorir Menjo criticised the government for failing to carry a proper analysis on the ground and especially on cost of production before deciding on the new price.Menjo the new price will give room to unscrupulous players to exploit small-scale farmers.

“It is now clear the claim by the government that there is a lot of maize in the market is part of game to allow unscrupulous traders to continue exploiting the same-scale farmers,” Menjo told People Daily.

Cereals Millers Association officials declined to comment on the new price and the effect it will have on maize flour in the local market but United Grains Millers Association vice chairman Ken Nyaga said the new price will affect retail Unga price upwards at between Sh90 and 100 for a 2-kg packet.

Charles Boit both a farmer and miller said the new price will in long discourage farmers from growing maize thus impacting heavily on the food security efforts.

Producing food

“The new price has decreased by 30 per cent from last year figure of Sh3, 200. Equally, the introduction of eight per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on fuel products will eventually discourage farmers from producing food. The VAT increase so far has increased cost of production by 15 per cent ,” said Boit on phone from Eldoret.

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