The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has opened its doors to purchase the current season’s corn crops across the country.
The board’s announcement to start purchasing the produce at 1,305 shillings per 50 kg bag from Wednesday sparked protests from farmers who said the price was low, compared to the rising production costs.
This new development comes as the corn harvest season reaches its peak in the North Rift, an area classified as the country’s grain basket.
Producers who predict lower yields due to erratic rains seen at the start of the planting season in March and June have expressed fears that most of them will not return to farming the following season due to poor planting season. income.
Farmers’ representatives, who had gathered in Eldoret to deliberate on issues plaguing the sub-sector, urged the government to step in and revise prices upwards to support food production.
“We had promised not to organize any more protests on issues related to subsidies and prices of corn because the Secretary of the Cabinet of Agriculture, Peter Munya, toured the region last year with the promise to address our concerns, ”said David Kiberenge, a farmer.
Mr Kiberenge, who represents agricultural producers, said the CS had promised to streamline the sector, but noted that as farmers harvest their maize, their problems have not been resolved.
“We respect the government and will not politicize this issue. Production costs have increased due to the cost of fuel, fertilizers and lack of subsidies. To enable farmers to earn a good income, production costs should not exceed Sh 3,000 per 90 kg bag of maize, ”Kiberenge said.
Big four agenda
He said food security is one of the pillars of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda and the government should improve productivity.
Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) director Kipkorir Menjo said for maize prices to stabilize the government would need to purchase two million 90kg bags from North Rift farmers during the current season. .
“The government should step in and make sure that producer prices for corn are based on operational costs. Offering low prices will demoralize corn farmers and lead to food shortages, ”Menjo said.
Moiben MP Silas Tiren, who chairs the parliamentary committee on agriculture, said the opening of NCPB depots for the purchase of corn was long overdue.
Tiren, who supported calls to set the producer price of maize at 1,700 shillings per 50 kg, asked the NCPB to explain how it had set the rate of 1,305 shillings per 50 kg bag.
“The high cost of fuel, machinery and other agricultural tools is still high, thus affecting mechanization in the maize sub-sector,” Tiren said. The MP said his committee would meet with Treasury and Agriculture officials to address farmers’ concerns.
Tiren, meanwhile, demanded to know the source of the corn currently being distributed as food rations in the 29 drought-stricken counties.
“The government has declared 29 counties affected by drought. Food supplies, including maize, are being distributed, but the government has not purchased maize from farmers. We should be made aware of the source of the product, ”Menjo said. On Wednesday afternoon, the NCPB issued notices: “The NCPB is now opening the purchase of corn from November 17, 2021 at 1,305 shillings per 50 kg, by management. ”
Titus Maiyo, the director of corporate affairs of NCPB, said the board of directors purchases corn for its commercial function for commerce.
“The prices offered are based on current market costs. The price offered by NCPB is for its commercial function and not for strategic food reserves. The price is based on the prevailing market prices. When the government decides to buy maize for national food reserves, it will give a price for it as well as accompanying conditions, ”he said.
Maiyo also said the board is open to storing corn through its Warehouse Receiving System (WRS) for farmers who want to store it for future sale.