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Low maize prices hurting farmers as harvesting season starts

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The price of a 90kg bag of maize may drop to a low of Sh1000 from Sh3200 last year hurting farmers mainly from the North Rift, hitherto considered Kenya’s bread basket.

According to some farmers in Nandi, Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia which are the main maize growing areas in the country, the price of a 90kg bag of maize is currently retailing at Sh1500 with the prices expected to decrease as the harvesting season starts this month and expected to go all the way to December.

“I still have 320 bags in my store, the produce being half of my last year’s harvest and I am expecting 500 more bags this year yet the market is flooded, where will I sell this produce?, said Tecla Cheptum, one of the farmers in Trans Nzoia County.

The farmer says she has been forced to sell her maize at throw away prices of Sh1500 per bag hence incurring a loss of Sh1700 per bag.


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Maize harvesting. Courtesy

The National Cereals and Produce Board still owe maize farmers Sh3.5bn which is part of payment for 3.8m bags of produce purchased in the 2017 season.

“I am contemplating quitting maize farming for other crops such as passion fruits or pineapples,” said Cheptum.

In 2018, the ministry of agriculture is projecting an increase in maize production from 35.2m bags recorded last year to 46m bags due to improved rains compared to last year.

The ministry reports that Kenya consumes at least three million bags of maize per month as the commodity is used to make ugali (maize meal) consumed by more than 65 per cent of Kenya’s 48m people.



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