Farm­ers to take pri­or­ity as state buys maize — CS

Bett says Strate­gic Food Re­serve board to meet and set price

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics Ministries - AGATHA NGOTHO @agath­ang­otho

The gov­ern­ment has as­sured that farm­ers will take pri­or­ity in its up­com­ing maize pur­chase.

Stephen Kruger, the Ce­real Grow­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man, wel­comed the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to pri­ori­tise the pur­chase of maize produce from lo­cal farm­ers.

The Agri­cul­ture min­istry pre­pares to wind down the cur­rent Sh9 bil­lion maize sub­sidy pro­gramme.

Last week, farm­ers ex­pressed con­cern that the ex­ten­sion of the im­por­ta­tion of maize would hurt maize prices in the lo­cal mar­ket.

Some farm­ers have be­gun har­vest­ing. Yields from the main har­vest sea­son usu­ally reach the lo­cal mar­ket by Oc­to­ber.

Agri­cul­ture Cabi­net Sec­re­tary Willy Bett on Fri­day said the gov­ern­ment has put in place mea­sures to en­sure farm- ers get ready mar­ket for their produce.

He spoke dur­ing a meeting with ce­real grow­ers and millers.

PRICE OF­FER

Bett said Strate­gic Food Re­serve Board of­fi­cials will meet this week to agree on a price of­fer for the up­com­ing har­vest.

“We want to en­sure that as the main har­vest sea­son kicks in, farm­ers and con­sumers are pro­tected,” the CS said.

The meeting had been called to look into con­cerns by maize farm­ers that the ex­ten­sion of the maize sub­sidy scheme to next month would have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the lo­cal mar­ket when produce from the main har­vest reaches the mar­ket.

IM­PORT DUTY WAIVER

Maize farm­ers in the South Rift re­gion are al­ready har­vest­ing their crops.

The North Rift re­gion is ex­pected to bring its maize to the mar­ket in the next one month.

The grow­ers also urged the gov­ern- ment to end the im­port duty waiver on maize as lo­cal sup­plies are im­prov­ing.

“We need to review if compensation of maize im­ports for millers is nec­es­sary as prices of maize in the mar­ket have fallen and supply has in­creased. This will help avoid a glut of cheap im­ported maize in the mar­ket,” CGA chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Antony Kioko said.

RA­TIONING

To set­tle this, Bett said when the win­dow of im­por­ta­tion comes to a close next month, the gov­ern­ment will start ra­tioning the amount of maize supplied to millers to pre­vent hoard­ing.

“Cur­rently, there is no re­stric­tion on the al­lo­ca­tion of maize to the millers. They are al­lo­cated ac­cord­ing to their milling ca­pac­ity,” he said.

“But two to three weeks to the clo­sure of the im­por­ta­tion win­dow, the sit­u­a­tion will change and we will cut the supply to last for only two to three milling days.”

/JACK OWUOR

Ce­real Millers’ As­so­ci­a­tion chair­man Nick Hutchin­son and Agri­cul­ture CS Willy Bett at a press con­fer­ence in Nairobi on April 4

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