Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS), Peter Munya, has said the government will buy rice at a constant price of Sh85 per Kg from farmers.
Munya made the announcement, when he addressed rice farmers at Kenya National Trading Company (KNTC) stores in Mwea, Kirinyaga County where he flagged-off trucks transporting rice to various markets.
KNTC is the state organ for buying rice on behalf of the Kenya government. The move will see traders faced with lack of enough storage facilities sell the product to the government.
“This is the information I have, we will buy your rice like last year, with the same price,” Munya said.
Munya added that KNTC has set aside an initial amount of Sh100 million to buy rice this season and added farmers will be paid instantly.
“We have talked with KNTC, they have set aside 100 million which they will pay farmers even before they sell their rice,” CS said.
However, Munya said from next year the government will not guarantee the farmers a constant price of Sh85 a Kg. due to lack of stable domestic market and stiff competition from cheaper varieties.
“From next year I can’t assure you we will buy, we have to negotiate again, because we buy and sell at a better price, but yours is higher than market price,” Munya alluded.
“We have been buying and selling to domestic markets like prisons, supermarkets, and military but now they prefer cheaper varieties available in the market,” he said.
He said there are other areas that produce rice in the country in addition to imported rice which are cheaper than the common Pishori produced in Mwea. He urged the farmers to diversify to different varieties.
The CS also said rice farmers should take advantage of Commodity Fund, which the Ministry is giving out to farmers at a low interest rate of five (5) per cent.
“We have Commodity Fund under my Ministry which is offered at 5% interest. You can take it instead of others that charge 13 %,” Munya said.
Munya also said the government no longer provides subsidized fertilizers because of brokerage that marred the process.
Interviews with farmers revealed a different picture on the announcement, with most saying they will return to the government to buy even with higher prices.
Josphine Githinji, a farmer in Tebere section lauded the Cabinet Secretary for buying the product this season and hoped next year they will negotiate with the government and amicably settle on a better price.
She further urged the government to reduce the prices of pesticides, especially for snails that destroy rice farms.
“Snails have invaded our nurseries and the price of pesticides is high, I wish the government would reduce the price. It is four thousand shillings per liter,” she said.
By Mutai Kipngetich