Kenya is set to buy a total of 6.6 million bags of maize following an agreement signed with Kampala.
According to the signed deal, Kenya will be buying a 90-kilogram bag of maize at 2,050 shillings in a move to fill the deficit being faced by the country which came as a result of the prolonged drought in 2017 that led to a deficit of more than five million bags.
The move will see local millers pay Grain Council of Uganda for delivery of cargo at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots.
Local millers will have access to 600,000 tonnes of maize at $225 per tonne in what will plug a deficit of more than five million bags following poor weather last year.
This will curb rising flour prices, which increased to 115 shillings for the 2-kilogram packet compared to 90 shillings in December after the government ended the 6 billion shillings’ subsidy for maize importers.
This comes at a time when thousands of farmers in the North Rift were shunned away after the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) said that the silos are full.
Many farmers had queued with Lorries full of their produce only to be told to look for alternative buyers. In Eldoret NCPB, a spot check revealed that several tractors and trucks had lined up to deliver their produce.
The government, in November 2017, had made an announcement that it was setting aside 7.1 billion shillings for the purchase of 2.4 million bags of maize.
Recently, there were protests by farmers regarding the delays in the purchase of maize by the board. The farmers complained that they were being subjected to exploitation by intermediaries offering low prices.
The board was supposed to buy maize at 3,200 shillings per 90-kilogram bag but the delays have seen middlemen buy the maize at 1,200 shillings less.
It is ironical considering that the government urged the farmers to produce more grains only to end up buying from Uganda.
When the NCPB corporate affairs manager, Titus Maiyo said the board was planning to create more space at the depots, it probably has many wondering if the space created was for the cheap importation of maize from outside Kenya.
Some influential personnel has been accused by the Cereals Growers Association (CGA) of enjoying government protection and taking the advantage of cheap imports to sell it to the board.
By Vera Shawiza and Isaac Korir