Kenya

Farmers Amass Maize in Hope of High Prices

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Nairobi — Poor prices have forced farmers in the North Rift to hoard millions of bags of maize.

The National Cereals and Produce Board has bought only three million bags of the crop for the Strategic Grain Reserve against national demand of more than six million.

Though maize prices have gone up to between Sh2,200 and Sh2,500 for a 90-kilogramme bag, farmers are still holding on to their crop.

"I prefer to hold on to my stock as there is a likelihood of a poor harvest this season due to sporadic rainfall," said Ms Lucy Kong'ato who has 100 bags of maize.

Meanwhile, the cereals board has stepped up the supply of fertiliser in the North Rift.

Up to 12,250 bags of 50kg Di-Ammonium Phosphate have been delivered to Kitale and 7,800 to Moi's Bridge.

But farmers said unscrupulous traders are selling fake fertiliser and seed.

"The Government should seal these loopholes in agriculture or we will switch to more lucrative ventures," said Mr Mathew Kiprotich, a farmer in Trans Nzoia District.

Farmers said they wanted low interest loans and a revival of the Kenya Farmers Association, which would be the sole importer and distributor of inputs.

"This will cut out middlemen," said Uasin Gishu farmer James Barno.

Though the Meteorological Department had predicted adequate rains in the country, most parts of the North Rift have not had any.

Last year, the North Rift produced 12 million bags of maize against the country's Strategic Grain Reserve of four million bags.

The region also produced 3.7 million bags of wheat worth Sh6.3 billion against national demand of eight million bags.