Govt will buy only 2 percent of maize from target farmers at Kes4,000

The government will purchase maize solely from farmers registered with the state, as Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi announced limited procurement by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).

CS Linturi mentioned that the government would acquire only one million bags of maize at Kes4,000 per bag, as earlier projected at Maudhui House. However, they will restrict this purchase to a selected list of farmers.

According to the government, farmers will produce 44 million bags of maize, meaning the government will only purchase approximately two percent of the available produce.

The competition for state-subsidized maize sales was set to intensify due to the importation of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of maize at the end of last year’s drought, leading to a surplus in the market.

As a result, prices have fallen, with local and foreign middlemen flocking to the North Rift region to buy maize from farmers at prices ranging between Kes3,000 and Kes4,200 per 90kg bag.

“We will be procuring the maize from registered farmers listed in our database. NCPB storage facilities are prepared to receive the maize,” CS Linturi told the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday.

This comes just days after the NCPB announced its readiness to stock up to 20 million bags of maize in its depots across the country, following a first-come, first-serve basis.

However, NCPB CEO Joseph Kimote stated that they would not accept maize unless they have the funds to pay the farmers. They plan to follow the instructions set by the government once the prices are out.

Read also: Government signals Sh4000 maize with Sh4Bn allocation

Quantity of maize

President William Ruto is facing opposition from his Rift Valley constituency regarding both the price and the quantity of maize set for purchase.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei questioned Mr Linturi about why the government is buying maize at Kes4,000 per 90kg bag, rather than a rate exceeding Kes5,500. He pointed out that farmers had already benefited from fertilizer subsidies and were now seeking subsidized sales.

Nevertheless, farmers have previously stated that the cost of energy eroded the benefits of the fertilizer subsidy, and for them to break even, the government should set the price of maize at no less than Kes5,500 per 90kg bag.

Kenyan maize farmers are under pressure to sell their maize at a loss due to a market glut caused by duty-free imports and an increase in crop acreage in response to the country’s worst period of drought. With El Nino approaching, farmers are desperate to bring their produce to the market to avoid post-harvest losses, further depressing market prices.

Despite the government’s confidence in Kenya’s increased food production this year, the trend is likely to suffer in the next production cycle if farmers cannot sell their produce above their costs.

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