The price of most maize flour brands has come down below Sh100 a packet as the market responds to increased supply of the raw material following the onset of harvesting in the North Rift.
The declining cost of the staple comes as a relief to most households who were grappling with high prices as late as last month when the cost of a two kilogramme packet retailed at an average of Sh112.
Farmers in Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu have started harvesting the main crop, hence lowering the cost of maize in the market.
A maize shortage between September and October had raised the cost of a 90kg bag to Sh2,800, from Sh2,200 in February. The price has so far dropped to Sh1,900 at the farm gate and Sh2,300 at the National Cereals and Produce Board.
Maize prices have a big effect on inflation in Kenya’s economy where it is a staple food and accounts for a significant share of poor household budgets. Inflation stood at 6.72 per cent in October compared to 5.97 per cent in September mainly due to high cost of food.
Most retail chains have lowered the price of flour with the common brands such as Jembe, Ndovu and Pembe selling at below Sh100. Only a few premium brands such as Jogoo and Hostess are retailing at above Sh100.
Millers are now relying on the local stocks that are readily available as opposed to imports from Uganda and Tanzania. Kenya is a maize deficit country and depends on the two countries to bridge its annual shortage of about 20 million bags.
The government projects this year’s maize crop will hit 40.1 million bags, up from 38 million bags produced last year.
But there are fears the ongoing rains could reduce the projected number of bags due to post-harvest losses that could see a percentage of harvested crop go to waste.
Director of Crops at the ministry of Agriculture Johnson Irungu says more of the maize being harvested will go to waste due to enhance precipitation.
“We anticipate that about 15 per cent of the crop this year will go to waste as a result of the ongoing rains,” he said.
This is an increase of five per cent from the normal 10 per cent that normally goes to waste every year.
SOURCE: BUSINESS DAILY