Farmers to take priority as state buys maize — CS
Bett says Strategic Food Reserve board to meet and set price
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.
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.
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.”
Cereal Millers’ Association chairman Nick Hutchinson and Agriculture CS Willy Bett at a press conference in Nairobi on April 4