Restoring order to maize industry
5 months ago, 13 June 23:55
To bring sanity to the cereals and maize sector in particular, the first strategy should be to identify the farmers. County governments should take the lead in registration of farmers in line with Crops Act 2013 and AFA Act 2013.
Strategy One: The counties should have a record of all farmers with the acreage of maize farms. This will sort out the current abnormal demand for fertiliser, as well as delivery of excess maize to the National Cereals and Produce Board by cartels.
Strategy Two is to organise farmers into crop-specific cooperatives or associations. These will enable farmers to leverage on the strength of numbers and make access and distribution of inputs easier and on target.
Strategy Three is to sort out the sale of maize in a rush, hence, causing a glut in the market. Parliament should urgently enact the Warehouse Receipting System Bill to provide a legal process for farmers to warehouse their produce in registered storage facilities.
Farmers will then obtain a legally protected receipt, which is recognised as an instrument of title. This will enable them to use the receipt as collateral to obtain cash for their immediate financial needs.
The maize shall remain the property of the farmer and he/she will dispose of it at the time of his choice, when the prices are reasonable or favourable.
Strategy Four is to establish a commodity exchange to ensure trading is solely influenced by market forces. Deliberate intervention by the government to protect farmers may from time to time be done but in a structured manner.
With registration of farmers, cooperatives or associations in place, warehousing receipting system in place and commodity exchange operational, the challenges facing farmers will be minimised.
Strategy Five is for the government to formulate a policy that will compel all millers to engage maize farmers in contract farming.
The beer industry has contracted barley farmers and now sorghum growers. If this strategy is employed so that at least 70 per cent of the miller’s needs comes from contracted farmers, the price fluctuations will not be as volatile as currently experienced.
Further, subsidies will be more organised and targeted. The NCPB can only be retained to mop up all small-scale farmers’ produce, while large-scale farmers are encouraged to enter into contracts with millers.
Strategy Six is to enhance post-harvest management and logistics. Restructuring the NCPB should be concluded and recommendations implemented. The NCPB should be allowed and supported to operate commercially. The social side of its activities should be taken over by the Strategic Food Reserve.
The government should pay approximately Sh7 billion owed to the NCPB so it can operate optimally.
The board should also be financed to instal at least two maize mills, one in the North Rift and another in Nairobi, so excess produce can be milled and sold to at consumer-friendly prices. This will stabilise maize meal prices and ensure continued liquidity of the board.
The counties should be encouraged and even allocated grants by the national government to build and operate at least one silo in every subcounty.
They need to procure ...
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