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August 30, 2008

Kenya: high demand for green maize may cause shortage of mill-able maize

The high demand for green maize in Kenya's North Rift will create a deficit in this year’s harvest.

Truckloads of maize are transported from the region to other towns daily by middlemen.

Leaders led by Industrialisation Minister Henry Kosgey have requested farmers to stop the mass sale of green maize. "There is a looming food shortage in the region and farmers should, therefore, not continue selling green maize," he said.

Kosgey said, "It is this region that produces the country’s maize reserves. Other regions do not have adequate maize and farmers should not be selling their green maize," the minister said. He cautioned farmers that the middlemen who buy maize at throwaway prices were exploiting them.

The middlemen pay between Sh25,000 and Sh35,000 (US$530 to $750) for a one-acre field. The middlemen hire harvesters who also pack the maize in bags.

He reminded farmers that the National Cereals and Produce Board had increased maize prices to Sh1,700 (US$36) a (50kg) bag.

Kosgey also appealed to farmers to diversify and venture into dairy and tea production to improve their income. The minister urged tea farmers not to despair due to poor returns currently earned from tea. He said with the changing trends in the world market, tea farming would soon be a profitable venture.

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