News and knowhow for farmers

Government mulls contracted yellow maize farming to reduce feed cost

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By George Munene


The national government is working with major millers to develop a plan for contracted yellow maize farming by local farmers to arrest the growing cost of animal feeds and mitigate the cost of importing the grain. 


The global scarcity and high cost of imported yellow maize– the critical material in animal feed mix– has seen half of small-scale millers shut their businesses and major processors operate at half capacity.


The state’s open window for import of duty-free yellow maize has seen millers have difficulties in purchasing the required 99.1 per cent GMO-free yellow maize.


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“The price of animal feeds has shot up to historic levels. A long-term measure to curb the rising cost is to put in place a framework that will encourage processors to contract local farmers to supply the raw material to help reduce overreliance on imports,” said Harry Kimtai, PS, State Department of Livestock. Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Irrigation.


A 70-kilogram bag of layer mash is currently selling for between Sh4,000 and 5,000 across various parts of the country, up from Sh3,800 in April.


Millers are scheduling a further price increase as The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) increased electricity prices by 15.7 percent and the slashing of state subsidy has seen fuel prices surge to a historic Sh179.30per liter– up 20 shillings.


“Though yellow maize is mostly earmarked for the supply of the animal feed sector, it is billed to be more nutritious than white maize in human diets,” Kimtai added. 


Research has proved that yellow maize has a higher nutritional value than ordinary white maize, because of its higher levels of Lutein, Carotenoids and vitamin A whose deficiency among children in Africa may result in illness, blindness, and even death.


The Principal Secretary further noted that locally grown yellow maize could also be used by millers to blend flour meant for human consumption.


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Kenyans have for a long time frowned upon yellow maize considering that it is mostly imported as famine relief food and its use as livestock feed in countries of origin.


According to KALRO Director General Dr. Eliud Kirege, the body has developed a drought-resistant variety of yellow maize seed for distribution to farmers.

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