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Govt receives first consignment of maize dryers

The government has received the first consignment of 100 dryers procured to support farmers in drying their maize.

Agriculture and Livestock Development Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mithika Linturi said that they have agreed with the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to bring down the cost of drying a 90-kg bag of maize to Sh70. Farmers have previously been paying over Sh300 to dry a 90-kg bag of maize.

Speaking in Nairobi during the launch of the Kenya Dairy Industry Sustainability Roadmap 2023–2033, Linturi said that through NCPB and other private players, there are 17 warehouses in the country that have the capacity to store over four million bags so that the maize is properly stored to avoid infection by aflatoxin.

“We are now ready to start drying our maize as we promised because our main vision is to minimise post-harvest losses, and one of the ways to do this is by supporting our farmers to dry their maize and store it in the proper way,” said Linturi.

On the ongoing maize harvest in the country’s grain basket regions, Linturi stated that the government is committed to buying from farmers four million bags at Sh4, 000 per bag. The buying cost of Sh4, 000 is based on arithmetic derived from the computation of the cost of production.

“No farmer should be pressured by any value chain player to sell the maize below Sh4, 000. If so, this is exploitation which the Kenya Kwanza Government has been discouraging. Our intention is to facilitate farmers drying their maize in the stores of NCPB to prevent post-harvest losses,” said Linturi.

The CS added that the government has been running the fertiliser subsidy, and with the contribution of fertiliser to the total cost of production being around 30 per cent, they expect the cost of maize production to come down, which will lead to cheaper maize and Unga prices.

“We are already implementing the Warehouse Receipt System (WRS), and if a farmer does not have anywhere to store their maize, they can do it at the warehouses and get a receipt, and they can redeem the same quantity of maize at any warehouse across the country, and if they are speculators, they can wait for a better price in the future,” said Linturi.

He added that they have put in money at the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC), which is a farmer’s bank, and they can borrow money at interest rates below 10 percent,” said the CS.

Linturi reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring that the country is food secure, saying they have opened up an additional 200, 000 acres for food production.

“I am happy that with the support that the government is giving to our farmers, we have seen that they are going back to their farms,” said Linturi.

He explained that they had underestimated the rate at which farmers would go back to their farms, and now they are facing the challenge of providing enough quality and certified seeds.

“To address this challenge in the future, we have ensured that Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) land is being used for seed production so that in the coming planting seasons we will have enough quality seeds,” said Linturi.

Linturi assured industry stakeholders that with all the deliberate measures being taken by the government and the hard work by farmers and stakeholders in the industry, Kenya will be food-sufficient in the next 18 months.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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