When the new year kicks off, everyone embarks on their business that helps them afford food for themselves and their families. After the festive season is over, what follows is people resuming work, learning resumes in schools and any other institution while those on self-employment get back to serious business too.
As schools open, the Kenya n maize farmer who solely relies on selling their maize to get school fees for their children is in dilemma and deeply traumatized by the deteriorating maize market in the country that has for a long time been their main source of income.
Being a child of a maize farmer, I can attest that there is so much that is put in place before the end product is harvested. Maize has been the source of income for my family for as far as I can remember. Apart from paying for school fees for my siblings and me, it is what brings food and any other basic need on the table and in our lives. We are who we are because of the hard work and dedication that my parents put on maize farming.
Growing up, we could be woken up very early in the morning to go to the ‘Shamba’ to plant maize. Maize needs enough fertilizer for growth and sustainability. As the maize sprouts, what follows is the removal of any kind of weeds which tend to compete with the maize crop for nutrients, moisture, and space, and may completely suppress the crop if uncontrolled. These weeds may also harbor pests and diseases. Expensive chemicals are used to eliminate these weeds, a process that can be done repeatedly for almost two to three times before the maize picks up.
In the 8 months that maize takes before maturing and finally being harvested, so many resources are put in place. The government has categorically stated that the production of a bag of maize stans at 1,300 shillings but the reality is, the average amount ranges between 1,800 shillings and 2,000 shillings.
My point concerns the prices set by the government for buying maize from farmers. 2,300 shillings set as the main buying price for maize is like an insult to farmers. How can someone use almost 2,000 shillings on a bag of maize only to sell it at 2,300 shillings? How much profit do they get? How many bags of maize will these farmers be required to sell to get enough money to pay for their children’s school fees and also cater to their other needs? How much will be left for buying this year’s planting season?
Maize is the main staple meal for Kenyan households and thus, farmers will need to be treated with better prices for them to keep feeding the country. Maize dominates the agriculture sector and has widespread effects on the economy. Drops in Maize production have a marked impact on food prices, inflation, household income as well as the currency.