Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has informed that the government plans on buying one million maize bags through the Kenya Cereals and Produce Board from farmers this season to stock up on the strategic food reserve and cushion farmers from losses.
This comes at a time when farmers are being forced to sell their maize to middlemen for cheap to avoid market oversupply as maize from most farmers in the Rift Valley– Kenya’s grain basket– enters the market and the predicted El Nino rains.
“We are waiting for market forces to inform the government’s maize buying price so as to not disadvantage private business. We are still evaluating the grain market to determine what price we will buy the maize at,” Gachagua said.
Owing to adequate rains and the government’s subsidised fertiliser program, President William Ruto predicted a record 44 million maize bag harvest for this year’s long rains season. This has sent the price of a 90-kilogram bag of maize tumbling from Sh6,500 in June of this year to between Sh3,00 and Sh3,500.
“The agriculture minister Mithika Linturi promised to announce the minimum maize buying price on the first week of September and made a similar pledge to offtake one million bags from farmers to prevent us from being exploited by middlemen. Thus far, the government’s promises are proving to be empty words,” lamented Endebes maize grower Nathan Yego.
Increased diesel prices which broke the Sh200 barrier following a 10.6 per cent hike last month have also been transferred to farmers.
Where are the promised driers?
Ahead of the predicted El Nino rains in October to December of this year, farmers remain worried about post-harvest losses.
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They are still eagerly awaiting 100 driers promised to them by the government at the start of this month. These were meant to be “deployed strategically across the country and offer drying services at subsidised costs to help root out traditional drying systems.”