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Rice prices shoot up by over 60%

27 March 2013, 16:31 James Kabotia

Rice farmers in the expansive Mwea rice irrigation scheme in Kirinyaga County are laughing all the way to the bank after the prices of their precious commodity shot up by over 60%.

Farmers are selling a 100 kilogram bag of unprocessed rice at KES 5 500, up from KES 4 000 last year December.

A 100 kilogram of processed rice is now trading at 10 000 shillings following an intervention by National Cereals and Produce Board.

The government owned NCPB has started purchasing the commodity after farmers urged the government to intervene and rescue them from unscrupulous businessmen who were buying their produce at a throw away price.

The government through ministry of finance has also banned importation of cheap rice from Pakistan, a move which has stabilized the prices of rice in the area.

NCPB has taken over former National Irrigation Board warehouses which they are using to keep produce bought from  farmers.

In December, unscrupulous businessmen were blending the imported rice with local aromatic Pishori which they later sold at very low prices.

Also, some business people bought the commodity from the farmers and hoarded it in order to cash in during the rainy seasons.

A farmer, Gibson Karanja, termed the current prices as encouraging saying that the prices may shoot up.

Mwea multipurpose society chairman Pius Njogu said that he’s pleased by the turnaround saying that farmers would have something to smile about.

Njogu had accused the farmers of selling their produce in hurry thus flooding the market with rice.

He said that farmers ought to use the society to market their produce which he noted was well positioned to lobby for favourable prices in the market.

Early this year, the society branded its rice in a new marketing strategy to weed off cutthroat competition from cheap imported rice.

The society is marketing its product through the brand name of Kenya Select.

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