Wheat farmers can now access affordable and professional services in National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB silos to avert post-harvest losses occasioned by poor storage facilities.
The NCPB is now offering drying, cleaning, grading, weighing, and storage facilities at their depots to cushion wheat farmers from the losses they incurred to ensure that their harvests met the standards required.
In a press statement, the management of NCPB affirmed their commitment to resolving the perennial post-harvest challenges to wheat farmers by creating a conducive environment to minimize losses, maintain good wheat quality standards, and enhance food safety.
The board targets predominantly wheat farmers in Narok County and its environs to offer them conditions to dry their produce noting that the agency will be opening up the warehouses at affordable rates to help farmers address such challenges.
Wheat farmers who are currently harvesting in Narok and other pockets are invited to utilize NCPB facilities to access affordable and professional services. The services are available in silos in Narok, Nakuru, and Nairobi”, NCPB managing director Joseph Kimote said.
According to NCPB, some of the services to support farmers to address post-harvest challenges included the processing of wet grains, lack of adequate storage, use of unsafe drying methods to minimize cases of poor-quality grains that fetch low market prices, and use of sub-standardized weighbridges which do not reflect accurate weights of wheat and defraud farmers of the true value of their grain.
The Board has both mobile and fixed driers and what the farmers require is just to visit the silo to utilize fixed driers while those who wish to have their wheat dried where it is convenient for them can contact the silo manager Narok so that the mobile drier can be taken to them.
“We encourage farmers to come together or aggregate their wheat so that it can be dried collectively” the MD noted.
Narok happens to be one of the biggest wheat producers in the country and produces up to 50 percent of the wheat consumed in the country. Currently, farmers in the area are harvesting their crops.
NCPB has assured the farmers that those using NCPB storage facilities will benefit from safe storage as well as have the wheat marketed on their behalf. The Board has both conventional stores and Warehouse Receipt System (WRS) intake facilities.
Kenya is one of the largest wheat producers in Africa, with wheat being the second most important cereal crop after maize.
According to Agriculture Food Authority, the country consumes about 2.4 million bags but with only 100,000 metric tonnes produced, the country has to import close to 2 million metric tonnes annually from Russia and Ukraine.
Wheat normally grows with an average yield of 20-25 bags per acre. One bag of wheat weighs 90kg, currently, farmers selling the grade 1 are getting Ksh 5,200 while Grade 2 is going for Ksh5,100.
Cereal Growers Association CEO, Antony Kioko said that production of wheat this year is projected at between 600,000-700,000 bags in Narok County.
“There has been a drop in acreage over the years due to farmers dropping out of wheat farming following price fluctuations. There has also been an increased cost of production and this normally eats into the margins of the farmers and those who cannot sustain it drop out. We are calling on government support to help increase production”, the CEO said