The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives’ Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGS) 2019-2029, seeks to transform the agriculture sector in Kenya and ensure that there is national food and nutritional security besides ensuring that food is affordable especially to the needy.

In the new reforms, the SFR function will be placed under National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) as a new division called National FoodReserves. This division will be in charge of food security. NFR will deal with all matters pertaining to the Strategic food Reserve.

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Maize farmers to gain more in new agriculture reforms - NCPB

NCPB’s head of Corporate Affairs Titus Maiyo. Photo: Titus Maiyo.
Source: Facebook

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For example, it will manage the Strategic Food Reserve fund. In addition, it will collect data and undertake market intelligence (research) and monitor food prices.

The NFR stocks will comprise maize, rice, beans, powdered milk, canned beef and fish. NFR will also advise the government on food production and how to boost it through a variety of incentives to farmers (Interventions).

The other division under NCPB is NCPB Trading division which will run all the Board’s commercial functions. Currently, the Board trades commercially in commodities such as fertilizer and cereals and also offers a range of post-harvest services.

All these together with commercial storage (leasing of storage space and warehousing) will be under the NCPB Trading Division (NTD). NTD will run NCPB’s own certified warehouses under WRS.

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Maize farmers to gain more in new agriculture reforms - NCPB

Maize farmers loading produce in a lorry for sell. Photo: Smartfarm Ke.
Source: UGC

It will operate a commercial agricultural hub, a centre for information and will a network of value chains to strengthen input and services delivery and enhance market access.

This will involve clustering registered small-medium holder farmers and agro-dealers around aggregation centres (cooperatives or warehouses) for storage, bulk inputs sourcing, marketing and extension support.

From the object of the reforms, it is clear that the government has neither abandoned farmers nor stopped from buying maize from them. The government will continue buying locally produced maize, but under a new arrangement as opposed to how it has been doing in the past.

After the NCPB and Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) reforms, all maize for the National Food Reserve will be purchased through Warehouse Receipting System (WRS). The reserve stocks will be bought in form of receipts from certified warehouses.

Maize farmers to gain more in new agriculture reforms - NCPB

Maize in a national silo. Photo: NCPB.
Source: UGC

Under WRS, the farmers deposit their maize, beans or any other grain in a certified warehouse upon which they are issued with a warehouse receipt. This receipt is proof of ownership of the commodity held in the warehouse.

The farmers will not sell their grain directly but will do so through the commodity exchange (KOMEX). In the Komex, the prices will be determined by supply and demand or market forces (like the trading of stocks and shares).

This year the government did not set any price of maize but the prices were dictated by market forces. Neither the farmers nor consumers complained.

Farmers can grab this opportunity by forming strong cooperatives and have their warehouses certified or registered. Farmers are also at liberty through their cooperatives to aggregate their grain and store them in registered warehouses. Registration of Stores is done by AFFA.

With their grain in registered stores, farmers can negotiate with willing buyers over the prices of their grain; they can sell directly from the registered stores. They will not be in a hurry to sell cheaply to middlemen.

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