“When Kalonzo, Kibaki and I were in government we used to pay farmers Sh3,200. When Jubilee came in they removed Sh1,000 and said farmers should be paid Sh2,000. Farmers complained and complained, demanding Sh3,000. Now they are paying Mexico farmers Sh4,200… They have refused to pay farmers Sh3,000.
– Raila Odinga at a rally in Kisii on May 17
Farmers were paid an average of Sh3,396 for every 100 kg of maize in 2012, the last full year of the coalition government, before it dropped to Sh3,133 in 2013 according to the Economic Survey 2013.
In 2014, it increased slightly to 3,318 but plunged by 45 per cent to 2,870 in 2015, perhaps because of the record production of 42.5 million bags of maize that year.
Last year, maize production declined by 13 per cent to 37.1 million bags, yet farmers did not reap the benefits of increased demand for maize, with the average amount paid to them only increasing by three per cent to Sh2,969.
In February this year, the National Cereals and Produce Board board resisted pressure from farmers to increase their maize buying price from farmers from Sh3,000 saying it would lead to an increase in the price of maize flour.
But then the price of maize flour skyrocketed. In January this year a 2kg packet of maize flour sold for about Sh120, but by March it had jumped 28 per cent to sell at about Sh154.
In an attempt to bring down the cost of food, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich waived import taxes on maize and removed VAT taxes maize flour. Imports began arriving in Kenya mid-May.