Large scale farmers in West Pokot and Trans-Nzoia Counties now want the Government to give farmers more time to clear their stocks before resorting to importation.
The maize producers led by former West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo expressed their dismay over the ‘rush’ by the State to import maize even before it purchases the current season’s harvests.
“The government should listen to the farmers, review its prices. Importing maize only destabilizes market prices and makes farmers incur more losses. We want more time to sell our maize before importing maize from other Countries.” He said.
They said that they fear losing their investment following the high cost of inputs that saw planting fertilizer hit Sh 7, 000-8000 for a 50kg bag the current season.
“We were buying one bag of DAP fertilizer at Sh.7000-8000 last year, top dressing with CAN is not below 5000. Since 1963 farmers have suffered in Trans-Nzoia and the price of one bag of maize is the same as one bag of fertilizer. If fertilizer is Shs 7000, the price for a 90 kg bag of maize is 7500 or 6800.The difference is always small, like 500,300 0r 1000,” he said.
He said that the Government should reduce the price of farm inputs.
The farmers opposed the move to import Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) food in the Country.
Prof. Lonyangapuo defended the move to sell maize at high prices saying the farm inputs were costly.
“Kenyans should not be surprised with the high prices of maize because farm inputs are high and the high cost of living. We should not be compared with farmers from other countries like Sudan which have fertile arable land where they plant minus fertilizer,” he said.
He dismissed reports over farmers hoarding maize.
“No farmer is hoarding maize, beans or any other cereals. We plant maize as an agri business. We took loans from banks and Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) and the expenditure we used was huge. You cannot sell maize for negative,” he said.
He said that the Government should improve agricultural sector incentives.
“In West Pokot we had free certified seeds and soil tested during my time. Rural farmers should be educated on modern farming techniques. We have some new pests brought in the area from other countries. We need to control diseases, foot and mouth,” he said.
Prof. Lonyangapuo who spoke to the press at his Bwayi farm in Trans-Nzoia County said the government should focus on improving market prices rather than importing maize when farmers have hundreds of bags in their stores.
Weiwei farmers’ association chairperson, Mark Meut said that it was unwise for the government to import maize when farmers in the region still have maize.
A 90 kg bag of maize in the region now goes at Shs 5300-shs 5500.