Reasonable maize yields may push prices down

Wednesday June 22 2011

By FRED MUZAALE

The current high food prices in the country are likely to go down next month due to the reported bumper maize harvest this season in most of the maize growing areas.

According to farmers in Kayunga, Mubende, Kibaale, Busoga region and Masindi, this season’s maize yields are higher than those of last year’s December season during which maize yields were poor due to the long drought.

The harvesting season of dry maize is likely to start at the end of July. Mr Sowedi Namaswa a prominent maize farmer in Namulaba village, Kayunga District, says that even though the maize yields this season are not plenty, they are better than those of last season (December) during which he had a failed crop.

“Last season, I harvested three bags of maize from four acres but this season I am likely to harvest 16 bags of maize,” Mr Namaswa says.

Another farmer Ms Jane Nabwiso of Bupadhengo village, in Nawanyago sub-county, Kamuli district also says that this season she is likely to get better maize yields compared to last year’s season in December.

The farmers attribute this season’s fair maize crop on the relatively heavy rains that were experienced during the flowering stage of maize.

“If the rains were heavier than what was experienced, we would have had bumper harvest this season,” Mr Dan Kitaka, a farmer in Luzinga village, Kamuli district says.

Currently, a kilogramme of dry maize goes for Shs1,400 up from Shs200 it was at last year.

This has pushed the prices of maize flour up-a 50 kilogramme bag of number one (best quality) maize flour goes for between Shs100,000 and Shs102,000 at whole sale price, up from Shs65,000 two months ago while number one and half maize flour (second grade) goes for between Shs88,000 and Shs92,000 a bag up from Shs50,000 during the same period.

At retail price, a kilogramme of number one maize flour goes for a retail price of Shs2,200 while number two goes for Shs2,000.

A prominent produce buyer, Mr Oliver Muyomba, predicts that in August this year, the price of dry maize will go down to between Shs500 and Shs600, which will push the price of maize flour particularly number one and half, downwards to Shs1,500 a kilogramme.

He adds that the cost of dry maize is likely not to go below Shs500 because of the high demand for maize flour especially given that this season the yields are not abundant.

“But the price of number one maize flour is likely to remain high for long even after harvesting begins because it is milled from extremely dry maize,” Mr Muyomba predicts.

Produce buyers have during this maize scarcity period earned super normal profits something he says had not happened for the past three years.

According to Mr Muyomba, the retail price of a kilogramme of dry beans has gone down to Shs1,000 from Shs2,500 and says the price is likely to go down further as more farmers harvest their beans.

He also notes that the price of a 100 kilogramme bag of cassava flour has gone up from Shs50,000 a two weeks ago to a record Shs80,000. A kilogramme of cassava flour now goes for between Shs800 and Shs1,000.

The skyrocketing price for cassava flour is being blamed on the high cost of transporting it from Soroti and other eastern districts to the market and the increased demand of the food stuff after most consumers resorted to eating it after prices of maize flour went up.

The Kayunga district chairman Steven Dagada however advises farmers not to sell off their food but to store it for future use as this will ensure sustainable food security in their homes.

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