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Government strikes deal with millers to tone down unga prices.

The government has struck a deal with maize millers to ensure a 2kg packet of flour does not retail for more than Ksh. 115.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Will Bett has dismissed reports that the country has inadequate maize stocks noting that there is enough maize to feed the nation until the next harvest.

This deal comes shortly after small scale farmers predicted that maize flour prices would soar to a new high of Sh200 per 2kg packet by the end of March.

The CS also dismissed reports that millers are facing challenges in buying maize noting that they are buying maize locally at sh. 3,000 per bag and topping up with imports from neighboring countries.

Bett, who is currently touring the Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme, says the government through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has bought from local farmers 2 million bags of maize and is targeting half a million more.

Millers had last week called for government intervention in accessing maize, something Bett says can only happen if the cost of maize increases to more than sh. 3,200 per bag.

NCPB is offering Sh. 3,200 per 90kg bag of maize which above the Sh. 2,600 being offered by middlemen.

NCPB is faced with impending shortage of funds as it used the Sh7.1 billion it was allocated by the government to buy 2.4 million bags this year to replenish its Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR) stocks.

The board is remaining with an estimated Sh1.3 billion after it purchased 1.8 million bags of 90kg of maize worth Sh5.8 billion with long queues of farmers delivering the crop to buying centres in the North Rift region, the country’s food basket.

“We have paid Sh3.68 billion and additional Sh0.5 million has been released to ease the Sh2 billion balance for maize already delivered to our stores countrywide,” said Newton Terer, NCPB Managing Director.

A spot check across the nation revealed long queues of farmers delivering produce to the NCPB stores in readiness for this season’s planting and to raise funds for personal needs.

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