Maize deliveries to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) have doubled in the last two weeks after the agency reviewed prices it was offering farmers.
Growers have now been rushing to benefit from the better prices offered by the board even as the cost of the grain starts to decline on the back of regional imports.
NCPB managing director Joseph Kimote said on Thursday that the board has so far bought 200,000 bags, up from 100,000 bags a fortnight ago.
The board targets to purchase one million bags.
The State-owned agency is paying farmers Sh2,700 for a 90-kilogramme bag, up from an initial price of Sh2,500. It revised the price to woo growers who were selling their maize to traders and millers offering slightly higher than what it was paying.
“We have so far purchased 200,000 bags of maize from farmers and we are still seeing queues as growers are still delivering to us,” said Mr Kimote.
The board opened its doors last year in December for supplies, after failing to purchase maize in 2019 from growers. However, unlike other years, the grain handler is buying maize for its commercial purposes and not for the Strategic Grain Reserve as has been the case before.
Mr Kimote was speaking on Thursday during a media briefing at the agency’s headquarters in Nairobi. NCPB chairman Mutea Iringo said the board has undertaken a number of reforms in order to streamline its services.
Mr Iringo said they have increased the number of aflatoxin testing labs to seven as the board seeks to ensure food safety in the country as well as buying modern dryers to assist farmers in drying their grain when they harvest in wet seasons.
He said the board is paying farmers every two days after they have deposited their grain with the agency.
Whereas farmers are complaining of the influx of grain coming from Uganda and Tanzania, millers are happy that the cross-border imports have stabilised the prices in the market.
In Trans-Nzoia and Uasin Gishu, imports have pushed down grain prices in the North Rift region to Sh2,200 for a 90-kilo bag from Sh2,300 farm gate price.
“The stocks coming in from Uganda have helped to stabilise the prices in the market and we expect the cost to remain within the current levels of Sh2,800 for some time,” said Ken Nyagah, chairman of the United Grain Millers Association.
Mr Nyagah, however, decried low demand for flour on the shelves as consumers cut down on their purchases as a result of harsh economic times.