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HomeAgricultureHard times ahead following hike in price of maize, unpredictable rains

Hard times ahead following hike in price of maize, unpredictable rains

Farmers have for the last one month been preparing and some planting crops as they await for the much delayed start of the rainy season.

The Kiambu government at the beginning of the month procured maize and bean seeds worth Sh 34 million and distributed them to farmers for the planting season.

Joseph Kamau, Chief Officer Agriculture in Kiambu while speaking to KNA said that so far, they have distributed about 105 tonnes of maize and bean seeds to farmers.

“We expect if all goes well considering the weather patterns farmers will be able to harvest their crops within the next 3 to 4 months, by August,” Kamau said.

Kamau said Kiambu being a unique county that produces Maize both for Food and Feed, he is optimistic that the seeds given to farmers being fast maturing and growing type will address food security in the county.

But even as county governments are going beyond and are optimistic of farmers getting better yields in this upcoming period, experts in the agriculture industry say the maize outlook overall is a bit worrying as the cost of maize and even wheat is rising.

East African Grain Council (EAGC) Executive Director Gerald Masila warns of hard times ahead as prices of maize are not expected to drop soon.

Masila said maize prices have increased from around Sh. 3,600 for a 90 kg bag of maize in January to the current price of Sh. 4,200.

“We are in April and there is already a maize shortage being experienced in the country. This has led to an increase in the price of a 90 kg bag of maize to Sh4,200 from around Sh. 3,600 in January. Prices are high and this is the best time to sell for anyone that currently has maize. I don’t think it is true when people say that some farmers are hoarding maize,” said Masila.

According to the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG), the maize harvest in the marginal agricultural areas is 45-50 percent of the five-year national maize production average

Two months ago, in February 2022, available maize stocks were 57 percent and are expected to last for one to two months compared to the normal two to four months.

According to Masila, Maize farmers have in the recent past reduced the area under the crop thus affecting the national production and despite Kenya being a major producer of maize the earliest the country can receive maize imports from the region to supplement local production is from July.

“We expect maize from Uganda and Tanzania from around July to August, but the main crop from Kenya will start getting in from October-November up to December because it takes time to dry the maize from the time of harvest. So, we expect the real supply injection in the country to come not earlier than November,” he said.

Kennedy Nyaga, chairman of the United Grain Millers Association, an umbrella of small-scale millers in the country confirmed that they are facing maize shortage.

He noted that millers are currently getting maize from Tanzania but is also not enough. “We are facing hard times and if there is no intervention, prices of Unga could go up in the coming weeks,” said Nyaga.

Hannah Nyakairu, 77 year old farmer on her two acre farm in Kimunyu, Kiambu.

The government through the Cabinet Secretary  of Agriculture Peter Munya earlier this month slashed almost by half , the price of fertilizers to encourage farmers to increase acreage of land under the crop.

Munya had said that the use of fertilizer in farming activity has been threatened by recent spikes in the commodity prices due to ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine




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