Last year, Kenyans dived into farming with unparalleled gusto. Lured by the enviably high prices of food commodities and good weather patterns, farmers converted swathes of their land into maize plantations, hoping to make a killing. Today, farmers are staring at poverty instead, with nowhere to sell their surplus products.
Prices of key commodities like sugar, maize, milk, beans, and potatoes plummeted. By April 2017, the average price of 90 kilograms of maize was Sh4,554. Twelve months later, the price has dropped sharply to an average of Sh2,000. A kilogram of dry beans retailed at Sh105. This has dropped 22 percent to Sh82 in July 2018. The same period has been a feast for urban consumers who paid little for what rural farmers spent handsomely to produce.
As reported by standardmedia.co.ke, the paradox of a rich Kenya with poor farmers, has already captured the attention of several observers. “This year, no farmer will make money but there is also no one that will go without food,” said Dr Timothy Njagi, a research fellow at Tegemeo Institute, a public policy think-tank. Silos in the North Rift, the country’s bread-basket, are brimming with maize. XN Iraki, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi, agrees that due to good rains supply went up and glutted the market. “That has been our problem for ages. When it dries, there will be no food because our post-harvest storage is rarely adequate,” he says. The Government will soon be buying maize from farmers, but it will have to dispose of the stock it has first.
[ 100 Kenyan Shilling = € 0.85 ]