Kenyan millers have projected that consumers could be forced to dig deeper into their pockets for a packet of maize flour in the next few months.
According to the millers, the price of a 2kg packet is could go up to Sh200 by March. Currently, a packet goes for between Sh110 and Sh115.
Chairman of the United Grain Millers Association, Peter Kuguru, on Monday, said the supply of maize from the North Rift is decreasing and what is available could last until next month.
“We have two million bags of maize currently at the Strategic Grain Reserve against a monthly demand of three million.This will not be enough. This means millers will have to rely on imports from the neighbouring countries like Uganda and Tanzania,” he said.
He said there is little maize in the local market and some farmers could be hoarding the grains in anticipation of better prices.
A report released last week by the Famine Early Warning System Network shows the price of a 90kg bag of maize is likely to increase to Sh3,900 by May. Currently, a bag is selling at between Sh3,000 and Sh3,200.
Karuguru noted that even though the National Cereals and Produce Board is buying maize from farmers at Sh3,200, some farmers prefer to sell to traders at a lower price of Sh2,700 since traders buy in cash unlike the Board, which does not pay immediately.
He also said millers sometimes shy away from buying maize from Uganda, as its quality is not good.
Kuguru said the maize is usually not clean and the grains are small unlike those from Tanzania, whose quality if good but slightly expensive due to the border crisis.
The Ministry of Agriculture said the government is planning to undertake an assessment of the available stock of food, especially maize in the country by mid next month.
“The NCPB is still buying maize from farmers and once the assessment had been done, the government will advise on what action should be taken in case of a maize shortage,” Johnstone Irungu, the director of crops management said.