The government is ready to deal with El Nino rains as several measures have been put in place to ensure there is adequate and efficient storage of the expected bumper harvest of more than 44 million bags to cushion against losses that might be witnessed as a result of the El Nino rains.
Outgoing Principal Secretary in the State Department of Agriculture Harsama Kello who spoke in Kitale said the government has directed the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to put in place logistical preparations to handle the storage.
“NCPB has 9 big dryers in the country which have a capacity of drying 45 metric tonnes of maize per hour. We want to ensure that the cereal board stores are in good condition,” Kello spoke at the NCPB depot in Kitale.
The North Rift region is expected to produce 22 million bags where Trans Nzoia County is expected to produce the highest produce at 7 million bags while Uasin Gishu is expected to produce 6 million bags.
The Principal Secretary advised farmers against being taken advantage of middlemen who are purchasing maize at throw away prices of as low as sh 3000 per 90 kg bag. He said the government has entered into a deal with some.
“We have organized with several maize buying companies to pitch tents in maize producing zones to buy their produce at a price of sh 4, 200 per bag. This will be supplemented by NCPB which will soon start buying the produce once the president gives direction,” he said
NCPB managing director Joseph Kimote said they have incorporated technological innovations in the intake of maize to ensure there is a logistical nightmare that sees farmers spend days on queues before they can deliver their produce for strategic maize reserves.
“We are ready to purchase maize once we get the nod from the government since we have sufficient drying capabilities and enough storage space. We have trained our staff on the best practice with regard to grain intake,” said Kimote.
He said the cereals storage facilities can accommodate both direct off take by purchasing maize from farmers and through general warehousing under the Warehouse Receipt System regime with specific stores earmarked for storage.