It is good news for maize farmers as the government has released one billion shillings to pay outstanding arrears that have accrued since January this year when they delivered the produce to the National Cereals and Produce Board.
The funds will be used to pay 500 out of 987 farmers who have so far delivered more than 3.8m 90kg bags to NCPB stores.
The government will pay the farmers Sh3200 for every 90kg delivered up from Sh3000 paid last year, an increase of 6.7 per cent.
The amount however, is short of the total Sh3.5bn owed to farmers mostly from the Rift Valley region hitherto considered Kenya’s bread basket.
Maize lorries queing outside Eldoret NCPB depot in January this year
According to the 2018 economic survey report released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics in April this year, maize production dropped from 37.8m bags in 2016 to 35.4m bags in 2017 attributed to prolonged drought and Fall Armyworm infestation that destroyed more than 800,000 acres of land.
The Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development report of 2016 showed that the consumption Kenya’s staple food ugali (from maize flour) is declining with the population now turning to rice and potatoes among other foods due to dwindling maize production.
The report revealed that maize consumption dropped from 86 per cent in 2013 to 78 per cent in 2016 with the average weekly consumption per household also dropping from 7.9kg in 2013 to 6.9kg in 2016.
The drop in maize production last year led to increase in maize imports eight fold to 1328 thousand tonnes.
In this, the government through flour millers subsidized skyrocketing prices of a two kilogram packet of maize flour from Sh150 to Sh90 to cushion consumers from the high prices.
The Kenyan ministry of agriculture has projected increase in maize production this year from 35.4m bags recorded in 2017 to 46m bags this year driven by sufficient rains and reduced impact of the Fall Armyworm.
The ministry says the move will improve food security in the country where 3.4m Kenyans are staring at starvation due to prolonged drought of 2017 and flash floods that have killed at least 72 people and displaced more than 200,000 families.