Tough times ahead as consumers likely to buy 2kg maize flour at Sh140 up from Sh90

Director of crops in the Agriculture ministry, Dr. Johnson Irungu yesterday said the cost of producing maize this year is likely to go up.

Economists estimate that the cost of a 2kg packet of flour will go up from the current sh90 under the government subsidy programme due to a number of factors including cost of production and the law of demand and supply.

“If the price of a 90kg bag will be anything above Sh2,500, the price of unga (maize flour) will go up between Sh130 to Sh140 ($1.4). The Sh90 price of unga was achieved because the government was subsidising the price of maize to Sh2,300, ($23)” an expert who spoke with a local daily on condition of anonymity said.

Government introduced the subsidised maize programme on May in a bid to cushion Kenyans against the souring prices of maize flour at a cost of Sh6 billion ($58m) and it was supposed to last for three months until August.

Director of crops in the Agriculture ministry, Dr. Johnson Irungu yesterday said the cost of producing maize this year is likely to go up due to the pest control costs incurred by farmers.

“This is especially in areas that were mainly affected by the armyworm invasion, which affected 25 counties,” he said.

Kenya’s breadbasket counties of Trans Nzoia and parts of Uasi Gishu were infested with army worms from last year to early 2017 which depleted huge tracks of maize stalks leading to losses running into millions of shillings.

In 2016, the cost of producing a 90kg bag of maize was Sh2,150 ($2.1.5) for small-scale farmers and Sh1,800 ($18) for large-scale farmers, according to Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development.

“We are however working with Tegemeo Institute to determine the cost of production, which will help in advising on the initial cost of a 90kg bag of maize.” Dr. Irungu added.

Meanwhile, Kenya Meteorological Department has forecasted  there will be a shortage of rainfall during the October-December short rains season which will affect the country’s food security reserve and trigger food shortage.

As a result, the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) has warned that an estimated 3.4 million Kenyans risk starvation in the coming months due to scarce rainfall.

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