Maize farmers’ anxiety:Farmers fear they will suffer losses with low prices

Distribution of subsidised fertiliser, good weather, uncontrolled rise in fuel prices, and the reopening of the National Cereals and Produce Board  depots amid competitive prices in the informal sector are among the factors that defined their income.

Maize farmers
Maize farmers’ anxiety:Farmers fear they will suffer losses with low prices.

Despite the good producer prices, farmers in the North Rift feel returns from the agricultural sub-sector are not commensurate to their toil and year-long wait from their sole means of income. The government’s efforts to ensure access to subsidised fertilizer on time was a good intention to lower the costs of ugali, but farmers and stakeholders still maintain that maize would remain costly due to other factors of production.

More than a month ago, the ministry, through NCPB opened stores for procurement of maize harvests at a producer price of Sh4,000 per 90kg bag.

However, NCPB in North Rift has received only about 100,000 bags of 50 kgs. This is because farmers have shunned NCPB, opting for private buyers offering between Sh4,100 and Sh4,300 at the farm gate without conditions. Maize producers across the country, who were registered under the Agriculture Ministry, were able to access fertiliser subsidies through an e-voucher system and in good time ahead of the long rains. “The government intervened by availing subsidised fertiliser on time, and farmers recorded better yields in the current season. The cost of fuel has gone up hence diminishing gains of subsidised fertiliser. There are also other costly operations in the sector,” said Kipkorir Menjo.

The Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) director said if fuel prices continue to rise, land preparation in the coming season will be affected, thus food production.

Farmers have lauded the government, but they say more needs to be done to keep them in business.

Thomas Bowen, a large-scale farmer from Tapsagoi in Turbo, said maize prices could hit over Sh5,500.

“Maize prices have appreciated and now retails at Sh4,200 at the farm gate. Some farmers are selling to meet their immediate needs and have kept stocks anticipating better prices shortly,” said Boen.

Monicah Koech from Mumetet in Uasin Gishu admitted she recorded improved yield in the current season due to the blended variety of subsidised fertiliser and adequate rains.

“My maize plantation had good foliage and I realised improved yields after the season,” said Koech.

Samuel Chemweno from Moiben observed that there was uniformity in crop development following the use of blended fertiliser. “The crop development was good throughout the season, and the subsidised fertiliser gave better yields compared to the past use of DAP.”


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