Sh9bn maize subsidy plan has not ended, say millers

Millers have said the Sh9 billion maize subsidy programme has not ended.

Nick Hutchinson, the chairman of the Cereal Millers Association, yesterday said millers are still receiving imported maize from the government.

This follows reports that the government’s subsidy programme came to an end last month to pave the way for the purchase maize from farmers after the harvest.

“Trucks are still transporting maize to Nairobi from Mombasa, though there is a delay because of the heavy rains at the Coast. This has led to a delay in offloading of the maize at the Port of Mombasa,” he told the Star yesterday.

But sources from the Ministry of Agriculture said what millers are getting is maize stock that was imported before October 15.

“This is the stock that is being cleared at the port, but there is a delay in offloading. The stock of the imported maize could last for a month. Until then, millers are not keen to buy maize from farmers since the imported maize is available at Sh2,300,” the source said.

“We are yet to receive any communication of the end of the subsidy programme. I have been reading in the papers that it has ended. But we are hoping to have a meeting with Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett any time soon and discuss the way forward,” Hutchinson said.

He said with the long-rain harvest underway, millers have not bought much maize from farmers through the National Cereals and Produce Board.

By last week, the board had only bought 140,000 bags of maize. Drying maize is a big challenge because of the heavy rains.

In September, the Cereal Growers Association urged the government to end the maize subsidy to ensure farmers do not suffer poor prices.

Chairman Stephanus Kruger wrote to Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe asking the ministry to address the issue ahead of harvests.

Kruger argued that the subsidy, which was to end on September 30, will force farmers to sell their produce at prices lower than those in regular harvest seasons.

He added that any delay will only benefit traders who have taken advantage of the situation to mop up grain, hoping to sell it at a huge profit after holding on to it.

Kruger said farmers have harvested their maize, therefore the continued subsidy is not necessary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *