Farmers in Kenya's bread basket of Uasin Gishu drying their maize in preparation for sale at the National Cereals and Produce Board depot in Eldoret
Kenya’s Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett has announced plans by the government to purchase maize from farmers across the country at Ksh. 3200 from October 16th 2017. Mr. Bett said that though the 2017 long rains were late in onset and with erratic tendency, a near normal performance of maize production was recorded in the high and medium rainfall areas. It is projected that 37.9 million bags, majority of these from smallholder farmers will be realized from both the long and short rains in 2017.
This represents a decline of 4.4 % of the long term average (LTA) of 40 million bags and a slight increase from the 36.9 million bags realized in 2016. The decline in overall production was attributed to reduction in area under maize by 5.1%, late rainfall onset coupled with long dried spells mid-season and Fall Army Worm invasion.
Harvesting of long rain crops started in earnest from July, but in some parts of Western and the North Rift, the harvesting is expected to commence from mid-October with peak harvest in November/December.
“The expected harvests from North Rift will move to replenish and further boost the needed stocks beginning from mid-October through to December, 2017 and also ease anticipated shortages” said Bett.
Bett also says the Agriculture Ministry in collaboration with Tegemeo Institute has conducted field technical surveys to determine the prevailing cost of maize production in the major maize growing regions of the Rift Valley and Western.
The Agriculture Ministry says that after critical analysis and harmonization of the cost of production, the cost of production of a 90 kg bag was determined to be Ksh. 2,257. Based on the cost of production and in consideration of farmers mark up of 35% (Ksh. 790 per 90 kg bag), the Strategic Food Reserve Board has recommended the produce for a 90 kg bag of maize be at Ksh. 3,000.
However, owing to the adverse weather conditions coupled with other numerous challenges such as outbreak of Fall Army Worm that farmers faced during the period, the government having evaluated the situation, has provided a rebate of Ksh. 200 per 90 kg bag of maize offered to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), over and above the Strategic Food Reserve Board recommended price.
Bett notes that drought and food security situation remains critical in the Arid and Semi-Arid Areas (ASALS) as rains were highly depressed and erratic. The most affected areas include Wajir, Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Garissa, Mandera, Baringo, some parts of Kitui and Kajiado. The number of people affected by food insecurity has risen to 3.2 million people, with majority being found in the ASAL areas.
To cushion consumers, the government will continue providing subsidized maize flours at Ksh. 90 per 2 kg bag for the foreseeable future until maize supply stabilizes.