Kenya corn production to rebound, high wheat output forecast

KENYA – Kenya’s corn and wheat production is expected to increase to 3.2 million tonnes and 360,000 tonnes in the 2018/19 MY, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of USDA.

Corn production will increase 10% from 2.9 million tonnes in 2017-18 due to an improvement in weather conditions after a prolonged drought and ability to contain pests and diseases including fall army worm and maize necrosis.

Based on USDA report, there will be a marginal increase in Kenya’s harvested corn area in 2018-19 due to the government’s efforts in enhancing agriculture for a food secure nation.

Cytonn Investments reported that maize production for the year 2017 was expected to decline by 24.3% to 28 million bags in 2017 from 37 million bags in 2016, against the country’s food security requirement of 40 million bags.

As a result, the year saw an upward pressure on food prices prompting the government to announce close to US$60m subsidy on maize, as well as increased maize imports.

“Under the ‘Big Four’ GOK program, corn production is prioritized for acceleration, through a public-private partnerships model that will involve identification and leasing of underutilized medium/large scale farms and dedicating them to corn production,” the USDA noted in the report.

“The program targets an additional 50,000 hectares in 2018.

In order to increase yield in traditional corn growing areas, both GOK and county governments have increased funding their fertilizer and seed distribution programs.

The full impact of these production supporting measures is likely to be realized beyond MY 2018-19.”

On the other hand, wheat is forecast to increase 20% to 360,000 tonnes, a slight rise as most farmers have become reluctant to expand their farms due to declining returns on investment.

As a result, wheat harvested area is expected to hold steady, an indicator of slower growth of the crop.

“Wheat farming in Kenya will in the long term also be constrained by the subdivision of family-owned farms into smaller units for inheritance purposes, and shifts to other more competitive enterprises such as barley, horticulture, dairy, and sorghum,” the USDA noted in the report.

Wheat yields are affected by poor weather conditions, use of recycled seed by farmers and the wheat stem rust disease.

Increase demand for corn, wheat and rice in Kenya is driven by surge in human consumption of the products increased use of corn and wheat in livestock feeds manufacture.

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