Maize flour prices set for record lows as har­vest forecast at 46m bags

Business Daily (Kenya) - - ECONOMY & POLITICS - Aggrey Omboki aom­boki@ke.na­tion­media.com

Maize har­vest is pro­jected at 46 mil­lion bags, re­flect­ing a 30 per cent rise which is set to de­liver cheaper flour but hurt farm­ers’ earn­ings.

Agri­cul­ture Cabinet Sec­re­tary Mwangi Ki­un­juri said the har­vest will rise from last year’s 36 mil­lion bags, break­ing a trend where har­vests have been de­clin­ing since 2015. This points to an eas­ing of the food cri­sis that has for the past two years forced Kenya to rely on im­ports to meet its needs for the sta­ple food.

But the in­creased sup­ply will hurt farm­ers who have seen the cost of the grain drop to be­low Sh1,500 a bag, from above Sh3,200 at the start of the year.

“We are ex­pect­ing 46 mil­lion bags, up from the last har­vest­ing sea­son’s fig­ure of 40 mil­lion bags,” said the CS in Nairobi yes­ter­day, adding that the crop ben­e­fited from im­proved weather. “The weather was very good. We cam­paigned for farm­ers to plant more maize, and gave sub­si­dies like sub­sidised fer­tiliser in coun­ties like Trans Nzoia, which recorded a 25 per cent in­crease in pro­duc­tion,” he said. Mr Ki­un­juri said the har­vest will sta­bilise prices and boost food se­cu­rity. Maize flour prices have dipped to a sixyear low on in­creased sup­ply of cheap grains from Uganda and har­vests in west­ern Kenya, eas­ing in­fla­tion­ary pres­sure.

A two-kilo­gramme packet of some flour brands re­tails at Sh86, a rate last wit­nessed in 2012 and is be­low the with­drawn sub­si­dized price of Sh90.

All brands of maize flour, with the ex­cep­tion of Jo­goo, are now trad­ing at less than Sh90, a re­lief to con­sumers. A two-kilo packet of Ki­faru re­tails at Sh86, Jimbi Sh84, and Soko Sh88.

All th­ese brands were re­tail­ing at a high of Sh110 in April. The cost of Host­ess, a pre­mium brand, has also dropped to Sh130 from Sh140. Maize deficit last year raised the cost of a two-kilo packet of flour to a high of Sh153. Cheap maize will ease pres­sure on in­fla­tion, which rose to 4.04pc last month.

In­creased sup­ply will hurt farm­ers who have seen the cost of the grain drop to be­low Sh1,500 a bag...

--FILE

A bag of maize has dropped to Sh1,500.

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