June 2, 2020


Kenya's corn farmers stand against imports



Farmers in Kenya's South Rift have opposed the government's plans to purchase four million bags of corn from foreign sources worth an estimated KES10 billion (US$93.67 million), The Standard reported.


The farmers claim they have sufficient stocks of corn in their stores, which the State could buy to bridge the shortage.


Yesterday, Andrew Tarich, a director with the Kenya Farmers Association (KFA), said farmers will struggle to sell their stocks if the government goes ahead to import the grain.


Kenya plans to import two million bags of white corn for human consumption and an additional two million bags of yellow corn for animal feed by mid-July.


"It is not okay to import maize [corn] when we have farmers holding millions of bags in their stores," said Yatich.


Strategy Food Reserve Oversight Board Chairman Noah Wekesa told The Standard that lack of corn is driving importation. Wekesa said the KES10 billion was generated from sale of four million bags last year. The board sold two million bags at KES2,300 per bag and another two million at KES2,700 each.


"Our stores cannot be empty as we cannot risk starvation," Wekesa said.


But Yatich insisted it was ironic for the State to import four million bags yet annual corn production in the country stands at between 36 and 40 million bags.


Yatich, a farmer in Molo and Elburgon, said he has at least 600 bags of corn harvested last year.


A 90-kilo bag is selling at between KES1,700 and KES2,300.


"Prices of the produce are not stable and farmers fear that after importation, they will be much lower, leaving them counting losses," he said.


The Standard visited different farmers in Neissuit, Njoro Sub-county where several had stocked the produce for lack of better markets.


Maiso Lepere is holding 600 bags of grain harvested last year while John Toet has 900 sacks.