KENYA – Data by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that maize prices dropped by 12.7 percent last year, driven by improved local harvests.

This comes as the Ministry of agriculture reported that the country produced 61 million bags in 2023 courtesy of good weather, and the fertiliser subsidy programme.

According to KNBS, prices of the staple food eased to an average of KES70.2 per kilogramme in December 2023, compared to KES 80.5 in the previous year.

The fall has been a major relief for consumers as it has lowered the cost of unga consumed in many households.

KNBS data shows that the price of a two-kilogram packet of sifted maize flour declined by 14.9 per cent between December 2022 and December 2023 from KES 182.14 to KES155.07.

However, the price rose marginally in the month to December.

“The average monthly retail market price for one kilogramme of maize rose from KES 69.2 in November 2023 to KES70.2 in December 2023,” said KNBS.

Maize is a staple food in Kenya and, therefore, its price has a huge bearing on the cost of living of Kenyans.

The cereal is grown locally but local production does not meet demand which keeps growing each year.

Further, production has been hampered by drought and land fragmentation in recent years amid high costs of inputs, leading to diminished harvests.

Last year, in its Economic Survey 2023, the KNBS reported that Kenya imported more than 520,000 tonnes of maize in two years (2022 and 2023), an increase of 190.2 percent.

According to the data, in 2022, Kenya’s import for the staple increased by 307,226 tonnes to hit 793,751 compared to 2021 when the imports increased by 213,053 tonnes and 2020 by 44,689 tonnes.

According to executives, the last time the agriculture sector recorded positive growth was in 2020 when it expanded by 5.2 percent. In 2021, the sector recorded a negative growth of 0.3 percent and a further drop of 1.6 percent in 2022 to negative 1.9 percent

However, the government is hopeful that various raft measures laid to increase local production will shield the country from huge import bills in the future.

In 2024, the country targets to produce 80 million bags of maize in an effort to achieve self-sufficiency.

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