Maize surplus in Kenya to hit 7 million by the end of March
The Ministry of Agriculture has projected that the country’s maize stock will hit a surplus of seven million bags by end of next month, promising households lower food inflation despite the recent El Niño losses.
A food security report released by the ministry indicates that by the end of December last year, there was 16 million bags of maize in the country, which will last beyond March.
Director of Crops in the Ministry of Agriculture Johnson Irungu said that at a monthly consumption rate of three million bags, the country stands at a strong food position.
“We are going to have a surplus of about seven million bags by March as the stocks of maize improved in the last crop season,” said Dr Irungu in the report.
He attributed the enhanced production to good rainfall regime in 2015, as well as various interventions by both national and county governments that contributed to improved maize yields last year.
Dr Irungu said improved stocks would see maize brought in as imports reduce significantly due to increased supply of the staple in the local market.
The ministry estimates that cross-border imports will be about 500,000 90-kg bags between January and next month from about 700,000 bags last year in the same period.
Kenya has a deficit of 20 million bags of maize annually and it relies on maize stocks from Tanzania and Uganda to bridge the gap.
Of the 14,383,548 bags currently in the country, farmers are holding about 7,850,200 bags, traders 2,774,948 bags, millers 6,590,200 bags and National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) 3,795,000 bags.
Maize prices have a big effect on inflation in Kenya’s economy where it is a staple food and accounts for a significant share of poor household budgets.
Inflation stood at 8.01 per cent in December compared to 7.78 per cent last month mainly due to a slight drop in the cost of food.
The price of most maize flour brands have dropped to below Sh95 a packet as the market responds to increased supply of the raw material following high supply of the grain in the country.
The declining cost of the staple comes as a relief to most households who were grappling with high prices as late as December when the cost of a two-kilogramme packet retailed at an average of Sh112.
The NCPB is buying a 90-kilogramme bag of maize at Sh2,300 per bag down from Sh2,600 that it was trading at last year in October.
However, with the expected surplus, the government estimates that two million bags will be wasted due to post harvest losses.
“About 10 per cent of the maize that has been harvested will go to waste due to poor post-harvest handling,” said Dr Irungu.
Agriculture Cabinet secretary Willy Bett had also warned of post-harvest losses by farmers due a lack of drying facilities during the El Niño rains.