Kenya plans to allow maize imports from outside the East African Community to mitigate the current spike in flour prices now at a historic high of Sh150 for a two-kilo packet.
Agriculture Cabinet secretary Peter Munya said the imports, which are expected to give consumers a reprieve, will also force farmers hoarding their produce to release it to the market.
He said the decision on when the imports would start and volumes to be shipped in would be made in the next couple of days with the consignment expected to arrive in 45 days from the date that the orders would be made.
“We are going to run out of maize in the next few months and to control the rising cost of flour, we need to import the produce,” said Mr Munya.
This will be the first maize imports from outside of the EAC bloc since 2017.
He said the imports would be restricted to what is needed by those who would be licensed to avoid shipping in excessive stocks by unscrupulous traders.
The price of a 90-kilo bag of maize has shot to Sh4,500 from Sh2,800 in December and Sh3,700 in March on the back of a tightening supply in the market. The ministry said last month that farmers were holding onto 85 percent of the total stock of maize in the county, as they anticipated better prices in the future.
The food balance sheet report for March showed that growers were holding 8.5 million bags of maize stocks out of 10.1 million bags of 90Kgs, which has left millers facing a shortage of maize.
The report indicated that millers and traders have a paltry 1.5 million bags with the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) holding zero grains.
Millers have been complaining that the flow of stocks from local farmers has been dwindling, pointing out that the shortage will be acutely felt in the coming days.
Mr Munya said at the moment there is a shortage of supply to Kenya from the regional markets as most stocks from Uganda are heading to South Sudan where they are fetching a good price
Source: Business Daily