Corn production in Kenya continues to be constrained by numerous factors including inadequate and erratic rainfall, the spread of Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN), low access to seeds for the popular hybrid corn varieties, and the underlying soil acidification due to continuous usage of Diamonium Phosphate (DAP) fertilizer at planting. Both the national and county governments have initiated measures aimed at expanding production as well as reducing the cost of production. Some of the key programs include the provision of subsidized fertilizers to farmers, and the construction of irrigation infrastructure in Galana/Kulalu at the North Coast, to bring an estimated one million hectares under irrigated agriculture.

The National Irrigation Board (NIB), the agency mandated on the Galana/Kulalu Food Security Project, estimates that the first corn harvest from some 10,000 hectares of the project will come through in the MY 2015/2016. Modest corn production increases are also expected in the traditional rain-fed regions as more farmers adopt alternative, non-acidifying fertilizers.

The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), the Government of Kenya (GOK) agency has traditionally been responsible for the annual government corn purchase program. The GOK has announced its intention to move away from commercial purchases and concentrate only on strategic grain reserves. In anticipation, private investors are putting up more commercial grain handling facilities in the major corn-growing regions.

Corn remains the most important staple food and its consumption will continue to grow despite calls by GOK for diet diversification, leading to a supply deficit in the MY2015/2016. The deficit will most likely be fully offset by imports from within the East African Community (EAC), unless the ban on genetically modified (GM) corn will have been lifted. In addition, corn imports from outside the EAC attract a steep external tariff currently at 50 percent ad-varolem. A significant portion of the imports will however be through informal cross-border trade driven by the desire by traders to cash in on the higher prices in the Kenyan market. Corn exports out of Kenya are not expected in view of the anticipated supply deficit and the pricing differential.

Retail prices for corn and corn products have stabilized in the last one year due to the influx of imported corn and a lower than expected GOK purchase price of $25 USD per bag compared to $32 USD in the MY 2013/2014. Although the announced price made farmers unhappy, it will stem costs to consumers.

Aflatoxin contamination in corn remains a major food safety concern in Kenya. The GOK has committed funding to programs aimed at improving drying and storage facilities in all corn growing regions in Kenya in order to reduce the contamination. In addition, scientific trials on mitigation of soil based aflatoxin contamination that are supported by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have culminated in the ongoing construction of a plant at Katumani Research Station in Machakos County, for the manufacture of aflasafe™, a bio-control product that reduces aflatoxins in the field and in storage.

Corn: Production, Supply, and Distribution (PSD) Table

Corn

2013/2014

2014/2015

2015/2016

Kenya

Market Year Begin:

Jul 2013

Market Year Begin:

Jul 2014

Market Year Begin:

Jul 2015

USDA Official

New post

USDA Official

New post

USDA Official

New post

Area Harvested

1,800

1,800

2,000

1,650

1,700

Beginning Stocks

466

466

315

411

211

Production

2,800

2,800

2,700

2,650

2,800

MY Imports

200

800

500

900

1,000

TY Imports

300

800

500

900

1,000

TY Imp. from U.S.

0

0

0

0

0

Total Supply

3,466

4,066

3,515

3,961

4,011

MY Exports

1

5

5

0

0

TY Exports

5

5

5

0

0

Feed and Residual

350

350

350

350

350

FSI Consumption

2,800

3,300

2,800

3,400

3,400

Total Consumption

3,150

3,650

3,150

3,750

3,750

Ending Stocks

315

411

360

211

261

Total Distribution

3,466

4,066

3,515

3,961

4,011

1000 HA, 1000 MT, MT/HA

Sources of data: GOK – Global Trade Atlas (GTA) –otherwise FAS/Nairobi Estimates

Notes on PSD Table:

  • Area harvested is expected to increase in MY 2015/2016 as part of Galana/Kulalu food security project comes into production.
  • Modest increases in yields due to use of alternative fertilizers are expected.
  • Post has revised upwards the MY 2013/14 and MY 2014/15 imports due to increased imports from EAC countries.
  • Post forecasts that the deficit will widen in MY 2015/2016, leading to increased need for imports.
  • No imports are expected from the US unless the GOK lifts the GM products ban.