Maize farmers urge govt to review produce prices

By Our Reporter

Maize farmers from the North Rift region have urged the Government to announce the new prices of maize and buy the commodity from them.

The farmers, from West Pokot and Trans-Nzoia Counties, lamented that they are being exploited by middlemen and brokers who buy maize from them at throw away prices despite the high cost of farm inputs they used during planting season.

Richard Mwareng, the chairman of farmers in the region, said the government should buy maize from them at Ksh 7000 or Ksh 8000.

The farmers also noted that most millers have taken advantage of the situation by buying the maize from the farmers at a lower price.

“Middlemen are buying at only Ksh.4, 600 or Ksh4, 700 making us incur huge losses. We bought fertilizers at Ksh 7,200 and hired tractors for cultivation for Ksh 3, 500,” said Mr Mwareng.

Mwareng pointed out that to avert the looming hunger in the region, the Government should reduce fuel prices.

“Food prices won’t come down if farm inputs and fuel prices are still high. There is need to reduce fertilizer and fuel prices,” he said.

The farmers said that maize prices should bring profits and motivate farmers to return to their farms. 

“We witnessed low harvest given many maize farmers failed to plant. Others had to reduce their acreage due to unaffordable inputs,” said Mr Christopher Lonyala, a farmer at Chepchoina scheme in Trans-Nzoia County.

Mr Lonyala said that farmers should have a say when it comes to determining the maize market price. 

“This year’s produce has been expensive because of the troubles the farmers had to experience due to skyrocketing cost of inputs,” said Lonyala.

He said that creating a market will  encourage the farmers to put in more efforts in the farming business and boost the revenue base of both the farmers and government.

“Farmers have started selling maize at throw away prices because there is no market. I want the government to critically look at this problem and offer lasting solutions with a view to boosting the morale of maize farmers for the good of the nation,” he said.

Antonio Mudong’i, a large-scale farmer in Trans-Nzoia County, said that maize farming has not been a walk in the park.

“We are confused about what to do. Crop diseases and pests such as the fall army worms have sometimes devastated many hectares of maize crop,” said Mudong’i. 

Phillip Achekek, a maize trader in Kapenguria town, asked the government to buy maize from them so as to sell it to them in future, arguing that the government should not import maize from other countries.

“Maize prices now in Uganda are high hence we stopped buying from there. A 90 kg bag of maize goes at Ksh 5400 while a 90 kg bag of beans goes at Ksh 2000.We are getting maize from Alale, Kamla and Kasei in West Pokot County,” he said.

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