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Thursday, 28 May 2015

Smallholder farmers urged to aggregate maize in order to access market outlets

By Bob Aston
Smallholder farmers have been urged to aggregate maize together in one place in order to access market outlets easily. Speaking during a workshop organized by Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) for members of Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society at Ng’arua Maarifa Centre, Laikipia West Sub County on May 26, 2015, Mr. James Kamau, Ol-Moran Ward Agriculture Officer said that smallholder farmers will be able to get better returns than selling as individuals.
He said that smallholder farmers need to be encouraged to form farmer group organizations for aggregating maize. The farmers can then contribute different quantities of maize to the farmer group organization and can put a group store before delivering the maize to a certified warehouse or selling maize to traders.
The aggregation will help farmers to negotiate for better prices due to large maize volume and benefits from warehouse receipting system. When the maize is in the warehouse receipting system certified store, farmers can access loan financing from banks to meet their needs and repay the loan after selling the maize.
Maize aggregated in a warehouse
“During harvesting season the price of maize is usually low due to high supply. When harvesting season is over the price will increase. This is usually the best time to sell as farmers will be able to get higher returns from their maize,” said Mr. Kamau.
He mentioned different market outlets for maize which include: maize flour and animal feed millers; wholesale and retail grain markets; export markets to other countries; village markets; and consumer markets such as schools, hotels, hospitals, prisons and red-cross.
He said that price mapping is important as it helps farmers to know when the prices are good and can make decision when to sell their maize. He noted that Eastern African Grain Council does market price mapping across major markets and border markets in Kenya.
Before selling maize, farmers should consider factors such as production, transport, storage costs and expected profit per bag. He said that maize prices usually depend on factors like farm-gate price, retail market price and wholesale price.
“If farmers can calculate these costs and combine them with price mapping, they can plan easily when to sell and markets where they will sell their maize,” said Mr. Kamau.
He said that the East African Community (EAC) has set standards for maize trading across the region. Also there are recognized maize grades while the maximum acceptable packaging for maize is 50 kg bags.
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