December 10, 2008

Kenya farmers oppose corn price controls, want free market


Farmers in Kenya are opposed to the government directive forcing them to sell corn only to the state-run National Cereals and Produce Board at a fixed price, the Cereal Growers Association said Tuesday (December 9).


Last month, Kenya's Agriculture Minister William Ruto directed farmers to sell their corn to the NCPB for 1,950 Kenyan shillings (US$25.5) per 90-kilogram bag and banned millers from buying directly from farmers.


Farmers want to sell their corn at KES2,300 a bag as they did the previous season, said CGA chief executive David Nyameino, adding that imported corn is being sold to millers at a higher price than what the farmers are selling to NCBP.


Farmers may be forced to hold on to their corn stocks, worsening the country's food crisis, Nyameino said. Corn is the staple food in Kenya.


The government reintroduced the price control - lifted two decades ago - in an attempt to contain a surge in the price of corn flour due to shortages caused by post-election violence.


The price of a two kilogram bag of corn flour package doubled recently and now sells at up to KES120, which is too expensive for most Kenyans.


The shortage is expected to persist until late next year when the full corn harvest of 30 million bags will be achieved. Kenyans consume 38 million bags of corn a year.

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