Kenya remains a top country that thrives on the wheels of controversy and irony. As some wallow in abject poverty, there are some with their pockets full after looting public coffers clean, as some die of hunger, some have their grain rotting somewhere in stores.
Not long ago, farmers across the country were crying, calling on the government to buy their maize which was rotting in stores. The government was buying the maize at 2,600 shillings for every 90-kilogram bag. Farmers protested.
Then, out of the blues, the maize disappeared. Farmers stopped complaining and the prices rose by more than 50 percent. Currently, a 90-kilogram bag of dry maize is retailing at between 3,600 and 4,000 shillings across the country.
The government then announced that there was a shortage of maize and opened the borders for “investors” to import duty-free maize from other countries. The government hopes to import at least 12.5 million bags of maize.
As people and the government continue to plan for the importation of the maize, it has emerged that 124,500 bags of maize in the hands of the government are contaminated with high levels of aflatoxin. The Ministry of Agriculture has already planned to destroy half of the contaminated maize through incineration.
The news on the contaminated maize comes in the wake of small-scale millers complaining that the government had ‘refused’ to release maize to them for milling. The government has since released 1.7 million bags of maize to them at the price of between 2,400 and 2,600 shillings per 90-kilogram bag.
The ‘shortage’ in maize across the country has led to the spiking of prices of maize flour. The price of a 2-kilogram packet of maize rose by more than 36 percent, from just 85 shillings to now 125 shillings.
The World Health Organization (WHO) does not allow the use of maize with high levels of aflatoxin as the poison is a life-threatening, causing damage to the liver of the consumer.