Lately, the Leader of Majority in the senate, Elgeiyo Marakwet Senator Hon. Kipchumba Murkomen, has come under intense criticism for comment he made regarding the recently uncovered NCPB scandal. He had opined that maize farming did not make any financial nor business sense for small holder farmers doing it commercially.
He instead challenged them to instead venture into less land intensive ventures like avocado farming, poultry farming and bee keeping; comments that did not go down well with members on social media platforms like Facebook, most of whom deemed them insensitive coming from a man expected to drive policy making. I however choose to side with the Hon. Senator. Walk with me as we dissect the math:
COST OF CULTIVATING AN ACRE OF MAIZE
1. Ploughing – Shs 2,500 – 3,000. ( Two Bags of maize)
2. Harrowing – Shs 2,500. ( One bag of maize)
3. Planting – Shs 1,500. ( One bag of maize)
(These rates are directly controlled by Energy Regulatory Board. It is believed that this board is puppeteer-ed by a cartel of oil and petroleum importers. This is our worst year because we know they are taking back what they invested in 2017 Presidential and Party campaigns).
4. 10kg bag of Maize seed – shs 2,500. ( Two Bags of maize)
( The price of seeds was cheaper until 2014 When Plant and Seed Varieties Act 2014 was passed. It monopolised production of plant seeds most affected was cereals sector. Today we can buy seeds from either Kenya Seed or Simlaw Seeeds only ; many other SME seed producers/developers were locked out.)
5. Fertiliser – Kshs 1,500/ per bag x 2 = 3,000. ( Two Bags of maize)
( Even with government subsidy, cartels will buy fertiliser stock at the port, transport inland, mix with Chalk and diatomite dust like they did last year; repackage and sell to farmers at Kshs 3,000 per bag after they have hoarded it until late in the planting seasons so that farmers can buy our of desperation).
6. Weeds & Pest Agro-Chemicals – Shs 3,000. ( Two Bags of maize)
( Money for agricultural research is misused in Nairobi. Consequently farmers ultimately depend on multi-nationals for research. But these multi-nationals will always skew their data and findings for purposes of marketing their products. We need an up-to date, affordable and accessible government owned research institutes that will work with and for farmers all round the clock to give data and reports purely meant for improvement of farm produce by tackling crops pests, diseases and adaptation to changing climate.)
Even when subsidy is given, cartels swoop!)
7. Labour – Kshs 3,000. ( Two bags.)
( Farmers are basically paying for manual labour because mechanization is expensive. In an agro-economy like Kenya, farm machinery should be Zero rated)
8. Harvesting, Packaging & Storing – Shs 6,000 ( 3 bags).
Fuel. Labour. Gunny bags. Storing. All subject to factors above.
9. Selling – Kshs 2,000 – 3,000 per bag x 25 bags = Kshs 50,000 – 75,000
( The government and cartels will go to bed. This greedy couple will ensure that NCPB opens their gates for purchase between January – March when the new planting season is on and farmers need money. Schools open parents need money! – these are perfect conditions to create mass cereal sales out of desperation . This is when farmers are forced by circumstance to sell to cartels who can then earn shs 1.9 Billion!
A small scale farmer will never get these prices because cartels will always get priority treatment at NCPB.
The peasant farmer will spend weeks at the hallowed gates of NCPB crying and gnashing their teeth like how Jews still do it on the relic walls of Jerusalem 3,000 years on!
Finally the peasant will sell his produce at a throw away price out of desperation and walk back home in shame and poverty.