Farmers have urged the government to increase the import duty on wheat as a way of enabling Kenyan producers to effectively market their products locally.
The chairman of the Cereal Growers Association (CGA) Farnie Kruger lamented the low returns from the crop are dissuading farmers from cultivating it.
Currently, a 90Kg bag of wheat fetches KSh2500 and Kruger hopes that it can be increased to KSh3200.
“It is easier for foreign farmers to get their products into our market because of the subsidies they enjoy from their governments and we hope that our government will help tame these market-distorting forces,” said Kruger.
CGAs 30,000 members want the government to revise the import duty to 35 per cent.
Mr Kruger further noted that despite wheat being the second-most important cereal crop after maize in Kenya, the Ministry of Agriculture was not doing enough to support its production.
He said that farmers in Narok and Uasin Gishu counties, which produce more than 70 per cent of the country’s wheat, are currently unable to sell 350,000 bags produced last season. Kenya produced 420,000 metric tonnes of wheat in 2015.
A study by FAO showed that Kenya has been meeting its wheat demand by importing from countries such as Russia and Ukraine.
“Kenya farmers mostly produce relatively low quality, soft wheat varieties and higher quality, hard wheat varieties in a 75:25 ratio. Millers blend imported hard wheat varieties with soft wheat in a 40:60 ratio to produce a flour quality that meets Kenyan market demands,” read the report.
The research noted that a “quality adjustment needs to be made in comparing Kenya wheat prices with those of imported wheat.”