The move by President Uhuru Kenyatta to increase the buying price for 90 kilogramme bag of maize from Sh2,300 to Sh2,500 per 90 kilogramme has been well-received by farmers in North Rift, the country’s grain hub.
For example, Mr Thomas Korgaren, a farmer from Moiben, in Uasin Gishu County, said Mr Kenyatta should be commended for his action, but should should go further in ensuring the overall production cost is lowered.
"We want to laud the President for the move to increase the price. However, we still hope that the government will increase the price to enable us break- even. We spend between Sh2,800 and Sh3,000 to produce one bag of maize," Mr Korgaren said.
The market price of maize had dropped with millers in North Rift buying the grain at Sh1,300 farm-gate price as farmers rushed to sell the crop to schools after they reopened.
Mr Joe Sang, another farmer, said the news was a blessing because millers are now buying the crop at Sh1,600.
"I was so demoralised that I considered reducing the maize acreage by 100 acres. But with this increase, we feel it is a relief to most farmers," he added.
Mr Sang urged the government to continue with the subsidy programmes for farm inputs such as fertilisers, and waive the drying charges at the cereal stores. Currently, Sh21 is levied for every moisture content drop.
The government has also reduced the number of maize bags it will purchase to two million, down from 2.5 million announced in November.
Mr Kenyatta also ordered that 1.7 million bags from the 2017 harvest be released to the market at Sh1,600.
"With these interventions, I do not expect any changes in the existing price of unga (flour). It is clear that there is sufficient maize in the market selling at between Sh1,700 and Sh1,800 per bag," Mr Kenyatta said Friday.
The lower maize price is due to a bumper harvest of 46 million bags, prompting Mr Kipkorir Menjo, a Kenya Farmers Association official, to urge the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to consider doubling the number of bags they purchase.
"Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu counties produce over 10 million bags, with half sold in the market. We urge the government to consider buying about four million bags to stabilise the market prices," Mr Menjo said.
He further advised the State to be paying farmers on time so that they can adequately plan for the next planting season.
NCPB corporate affairs manager Titus Maiyo told Nation that they have enough space to store the maize bags. They are also recovering stores leased to millers, who had been given a one-month notice by the Agriculture ministry.