Middlemen from Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania are rushing to purchase maize in Kenyan counties, including Trans Nzoia, due to its lower prices. This trend coincides with a significant increase in the price of maize, a staple food in Kenya, in supermarkets. Additionally, President William Ruto has announced plans to import yellow maize.
Farmers in Trans Nzoia, where there was a good harvest this season, are facing a dilemma regarding whether to sell their maize to Kenyan middlemen or their counterparts from neighboring countries.
Rodgers Barasa, one of the farmers, mentioned that most buyers in the area are Ugandans and Tanzanians because of the reported scarcity of maize in Uganda.
The farmers have expressed concerns over the declining prices, with a 90-kilogram sack of maize selling for Ksh3,500, down from the anticipated Ksh6,500. Andrew Sebei confirmed that middlemen have been purchasing maize at prices ranging from Ksh3,000 to Ksh3,500. Farmers are requesting the government to establish a price range, even if it falls between Ksh4,000 and Ksh5,000, due to the challenging economic conditions.
This situation arises as Uganda faces a shortage of maize, leading to an export ban. In early September, President Yoweri Museveni’s government imposed a ban on maize exports, benefiting countries like Kenya. Millers and farmers welcomed the ban as it helps retain husks used for animal feed. Uganda is expected to produce only 2.5 million tonnes of maize in 2023.
Tanzania has also restricted maize exports to Kenya and other countries, indicating challenges in the country under President Samia Suluhu’s leadership.
Meanwhile, in Kenya, households are grappling with higher maize prices, with some brands selling a 2kg packet for as much as Ksh200.
President William Ruto has unveiled plans to import duty-free yellow maize to alleviate the high cost of living. While he did not provide specific timelines, he confirmed that funds for the project have been allocated by the Treasury. Additionally, he expressed his commitment to boosting production by providing affordable farm inputs like fertilizer and seeds.