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Price of cereals, processed food expected to drop

Price of cereals and processed food is expected to decline until end month as most parts of the country continue to witness favourable weather conditions, a new survey shows.

The survey, conducted by Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), noted that the October-December 2023 season recorded above average rainfall which continued to 2024.

Some respondents noted that harvests of cereals and cereal products from Eastern regions of the country had continued to boost supply of beans, maize grain and green grams.

“Generally, prices of loose maize grain, green grams and beans have been lower in the first quarter of 2024 compared to their respective levels in similar quarters in 2022 and 2023,” said the survey conducted between March 11 and 15, 2024.

Additionally, the rebound of the agriculture sector also offered notable relief to consumers with respect to sugar, whose prices have been moderating following the re-opening of local sugar factories from October last year and the moderation in global sugar prices.

Local sugar companies resumed operations following temporary closure in July 2023, to undergo annual maintenance.

The price of the sweetener has been declining gradually and was lower in March 2024, compared to February 2024, with some outlets posting prices of about Sh330 per 2kg packet (Sh155 per kg).

The March 2024 Agriculture Sector Survey however displayed mixed outcomes for various types of maize flour.

The pattern reflected the impact of continued supply of maize to the market following favourable rainfall in 2023 that led to increased production of maize.

On the other hand, the price of processed and unprocessed milk is expected to remain stable, supported by increased pasture resulting from favourable rainfall.

However, retail prices of tomatoes, potatoes and onions remained elevated due to higher demand relative to supply.

While onion prices remained elevated in both February and March 2024 surveys, respondents expect a further increase in April.

“Prices of potatoes and tomatoes were expected to increase in the next one month, though at a subdued pace relative to the expected increase in the February 2024 survey,” noted part of the report.

In March 2024, all rice varieties experienced slight price declines, except Pishori rice whose price increased slightly relative to February 2024

Expectations about prices of cooking oil and cooking fat in last month’s survey also point to a marginal decline in April 2024.

This is informed by the observed easing of international prices of edible oils following recovery of global palm oil production and the relatively stronger Kenya shilling in March 2024.

Despite the challenges associated with access to government subsidized fertilizer, the proportion of respondents who reported having accessed government subsidized fertilizer increased substantially to 67 percent in March 2024, from 53 percent in January 2024 survey.

Access to credit facilities in agriculture also registered an increase in March 2024 compared to January 2024.

“This is expected given the need for farmers to prepare their farms for planting ahead of the March-May 2024 long rains,” said the CBK report.

To address the problem of fake seeds, some farmers suggested that the government should come up with strict measures to ensure individuals do not capitalize on limited farmer information to supply them with low quality or fake inputs.

On the other hand, the survey showed that farmers face several barriers in accessing farm inputs due to high costs of fertilizer, seeds and pesticide as well as challenges associated with lack of finance and the high cost of mechanization.

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