Research indicates improved maize performance this year

Maize performance in the region improved this year according to research by Tegemeo Institute
Maize performance in the region improved this year according to research by Tegemeo Institute

The favourable weather conditions in the region and minimal incidences of pests and diseases contributed to the reduction of the costs of production for maize this year. This is according to research done by the Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development conducted this year. High maize imports in 2017 and early 2018 plus good maize production in 2018 have led to abundant supply and low wholesale market prices while there was also a noted increase in maize production for both large and small-scale farmers. However, according to the research results, government interventions in 2017 are still being felt in 2018, with some farmers holding stocks in anticipation of price increases, and consumer prices are still high in some areas.

For large scale farmers, the total production costs for 24 bags, each 90kgs/acre in Trans Nzoia was placed at Kshs 33,296. This takes into account seed, fertilizer, pesticides and fungicides, herbicides, machinery, labor, transport, working capital and other(s). In Uasin Gishu County, the total cost of production for large-scale farmers was placed at Kshs 31,284. The production costs per bag in Trans Nzoia is Kshs 1,387, while in Uasin Gishu it’s Kshs 1,331. If land rent is included with the same pointers unchanged, the total production cost for the 24 bags in Trans Nzoia is Kshs 43,296, while in Uasin Gishu it’s Kshs 41,284, the land rent being Kshs 10,000. The total production costs per bag for large scale in Trans Nzoia with land rent is Kshs 1,804, while in Uasin Gishu it’s Kshs 1,757. It was noted that yields increase from 2017, with large-scale increase by 23% and small scale at 6%, while the reduction of production costs tabulated at 18% for large scale and 15% for small-scale farmers. Lilian Kirimi, a senior research fellow at Tegemeo Institute outlined the current maize stock (90kg bags), with the total at the moment at 20,114,002 bags. Farmers have 15,873,089 bags, millers and traders have 383,612 bags, while NCPB has 3,857,301 bags.

The research focused on maize, rice and Irish potatoes production, at a time when the government is seeking to establish one of its four key pillars, food security. Another key highlight is that maize farmers expect higher prices than prevailing market prices and the acreage under maize grain is likely to go down. On the other hand, the production of rice in the Western region was also discussed, with stakeholders urged to partner with farmers from the region to improve rice production. “We should work with farmers in the Western region,” said Tim Njagi, a research fellow at Tegemeo Institute, “They have irrigation schemes but the yields are much lower.” He said rice production in the region is estimated at around 1 to 2 tonnes per hectare while an established irrigation scheme like Mwea produces 6 tonnes per hectare in comparison. He said the nation has the capacity to improve its rice production, but it’s unfortunate that last year we’ve imported about 90% of what we consume.