By Ibrahim Oruko
President Kenyatta has raised the buying price of maize by Sh200 and ordered Agriculture ministry to open maize-buying centres to start receiving the produce from farmers across the country immediately.
There has been a public outcry in the Rift Valley bread basket after the Cabinet last November approved the purchase of two million bags of maize from local farmers at a price of Sh2,300 per bag as part of efforts by the government to support local farmers.
Political leaders and farmers from the North Rift have, however, rejected the price, arguing that they were never consulted and that it was punitive. They demanded that the government reviews the price.
“The Sh2,300 price announced by the government is not what we agreed on as the maize task force. In our first meeting, we told the SFR that the least they can buy maize from farmers is Sh2,500 considering the production parameters,” Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago said.
But in a statement from State House, Mombasa, President Kenyatta directed the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Mwangi Kiunjuri to authorise the Strategic Food Reserve to buy two million 90-kilogramme bags of maize at Sh2,500 a bag.
“It is clear that there is sufficient maize in the market selling at between Sh1,700 and Sh1,800 per 90-kilogramme per bag. With these interventions, I do not expect any changes in the current price of unga,” the President’s statement said.
The President said that, after government interventions and the good weather experienced in 2018, the country had registered a bumper harvest to the tune of 46 million bags.
There are about 2.5 million bags carried over from the 2017 crop. The State will simultaneously release 1.7 million 90Kg bags at Sh1,600 and an additional 300,000 bags of animal feed at Sh1,400 a bag.
The question of maize prices has been a political hot potato that culminated in the recent public scolding of Mr Kiunjuri by the President in a rare show of anger.
Mr Kenyatta ordered investigations into the payment and told Mr Kiunjuri that he would be in trouble if money meant for maize farmers was ever again paid out to well-heeled individuals.
Heard from allafrica.com/stories/201901110595.html
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