Known by its Scientific name Zea Mays, maize is the staple food for most households in Kenya. It is mostly produced by small scale farmers.

Maize Figure 1: Maize crop at tasseling stage

Maize crop at tasseling stage

Maize is also an important livestock feed both as silage and as crop residue, grain and is also used industrially for starch and oil extraction.

It is an important source of carbohydrate, protein, iron, vitamin B, and minerals. Kenyans consume maize in a wide variety of ways (ugali, porridges and beer). Green maize, fresh on the cob, is eaten roasted or boiled separately or mixed with legumes.

Every part of the maize plant has economic value: the grain, leaves, stalk, tassel, and cob can all be used to produce a large variety of food and non-food products.


Key Policy Issues

Key areas of policy concerns are:-

  • Increasing agricultural productivity and incomes especially for smallholder farmers
  • Emphasis on irrigation to reduce over-reliance on rainfed agriculture in the face of limited high potential agricultural land
  • Encouraging diversification into non- traditional agricultural commodities and value addition to reduce vulnerability
  • Enhancing the food security and reduction in the no. of those suffering from hunger and hence the achievement of the MDGs
  • Encouraging private-sector led development of the sector
  • Ensuring environmental sustainability
  • Production of maize for biofuel production

Other Opportunities in the Maize Enterprise

  • Seed production – contract farmers to produce seed
  • Livestock feed – growing of Maize as fodder and also manufacturing livestock feeds
  • Industrial use – production of starch for textile industries
  • Production of edible oil for domestic purposes


  • Guidelines on postharvest and maize storage management – MOA,2004
  • Improving farm storage of maize- F.P Coyne, 1970
  • Field crops technical handbook – MOA, 2002
  • Manual for Soil fertility management, fertilizer marketing and extension communication in Kenya – MOA and GTZ, 2008
  • The on-farm trials and fertilizer use information for Trans Nzoia District and outlying areas, MOA &LD, 2008
  • Frontline extension workers manual,
  • East African agriculture, a text book for secondary school, D.N Ngugi,1986