KENYA – The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has opened its stores across the country to purchase maize from farmers at KES 4,000 (US$26.3) per 90 kg bag.

Speaking to The Standard, NCPB Corporate Affairs Manager Titus Maiyo said that the board would procure maize only from farmers registered with the Ministry of Agriculture across the country adding that farmers will receive payment upon delivery of produce.

“NCPB opened its stores effect from Friday last week, and farmers can bring in their maize harvests as long as it meets quality parameters,” stated Mr Maiyo.

The latest development is expected to stabilize maize prices that had dropped to as low as KES 3,400 in parts of the North Rift, where traders and middlemen have flocked after harvesting hit its peak.

He said the cereals board offers subsidized drying charges of Sh70 per 90 kg bag to dry grains to the required standard of 13.5 percent moisture content.

“Farmers can deliver their grains that are within moisture content of below 18 percent to silos that have drying facilities. Drying services are subsidized, and farmers can pay KES 70 for a 90 kg bag to have grains dried to 13.5 percent moisture content,” said Maiyo.

In the North Rift region, driers are available in silos in Kitale, Mois Bridge and Eldoret. The official said other depots that do not have driers will strictly receive produce at 13.5 percent moisture content to ensure safety quality at storage.

Reports show that so far, farmers have positively responded government’s call, and 1,500 bags of 90 kgs were supplied to NCPB stores in North Rift on Friday.

Tom Nyagechanga, the Kenya National Farmers Federation (Kenaff) Commodity representative in Trans Nzoia county, urged NCPB to open buying centers at the sub-county level to ease supply costs for farmers.

Distant NCPB depots discourage farmers from supplying their produce. Traders are taking advantage of the situation and offer farmers Sh3,800 for a 90 kg bag of maize at the doorstep,” noted Nyagenchanga.

He said some farmers who have already harvested and shelled their grains would prefer to store them until next year, as they anticipate prices to improve in the market.

“Some farmers anticipate maize prices to appreciate in the coming months. They prefer to hold on to the produce rather than selling to NCPB or traders at current prices,” said Nyagechanga.

The NCPB recently called on farmers and stakeholders in the cereals industry to utilize facilities offered by the cereals board to manage grain storage for quality standards.

The board noted that producers achieved improved yield in the current season and announced that its drying and storage facilities were available for players in the sector to manage grain storage to curb post-harvest losses.

In a statement signed by Maiyo on behalf of NCPB Managing Director Joseph Kimote, the board said the facilities will curb the wastage of harvests to enable farmers to gain better earnings and safeguard the country’s food security.

The board announced that the services are available in NCPB silos and selected deports at affordable rates.

Farmers and other interested parties are encouraged to inquire from the nearest NCPB depot on the availability of the services and the attendant charges,” stated Maiyo.