The Kenyan government has endorsed the importation of additional 500,000 tonnes of white duty-free maize and 500,000 tonnes of rice to cushion consumers against the high cost of the staples due to acute shortage.
Another 500,000 tonnes of yellow maize, 250,000 tonnes of soya bean meal and 150,000 tonnes of soya bean, among other consignments, will arrive in the country between March and August 6.
In a Kenya Gazette notice, National Treasury and Economic Planning Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u said the imported grains must meet specified health and international standards.
“The imported white maize shall have a moisture content not exceeding 13.5 per cent and aflatoxin levels shall not exceed 10 parts per billion (ppb) as provided by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and the Department of Public Health of the Ministry of Health,” stated the notice.
The price of maize has hit Sh6,200 per 90-kilogramme bag. The imports will be accompanied by a certificate of conformity issued by Kebs. Whereas the government wants the imported maize to sell at Sh4,200 per 90-kilogramme bag, millers have set tough conditions, including having market forces of supply and demand determine the prices and payment of last year’s Sh2.6 million subsidy arrears.
Most millers have suspended operations and sent their workers home as part of cost-cutting measures due to an acute shortage of maize to sustain their crushing capacity.
“We currently have zero stock and expect the government to come up with measures that will sustain a steady flow of the commodity and address the high prices of flour,” said Ken Nyaga, the United Grain Millers Association chairman, on the phone.
The price of flour has shot to above Sh200 up from Sh180 for a two-kilogramme packet following a sharp rise in the cost of maize. The planned importation of 500,000 tonnes of yellow maize follows the docking of 42,464 tonnes of yellow maize from the Port of Odesa in Ukraine last Sunday.
The millers have petitioned the government to put in place measures that will cushion consumers from the high cost of flour.
Read more in The Nation.Africa