Kenya to import maize outside EAC as flour prices surge

By Jane Muia / Published May 16, 2022 | 10:23 am




KEY POINTS

Details on when the imports would start and volumes to be shipped in are yet to be announced, with the consignment expected to arrive in 45 days from the date that the orders would be made.


maize imports

KEY TAKEAWAYS


As the cost of maize flour packets continues rising on shelves, the commodity's prices also continue to shoot higher in the market. The price of a 90-kilo bag of maize has shot to 4,500 shillings from 2,800 shillings in December and 3,700 in March.


Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya revealed the government’s plan to allow maize imports from outside the East African Community, a move that will cushion Kenyans from a recent spike in Flour prices.

“We are going to run out of maize in the next few months, and controlling the rising cost of flour, we need to import the produce,” Mr Munya said.

Details on when the imports would start and volumes to be shipped in are yet to be announced, with the consignment expected to arrive in 45 days from the date that the orders would be made.

Munya noted the imports would be restricted to what is needed by those who would be licensed to avoid shipping in excessive stocks by unscrupulous traders.

As the cost of maize flour packets continues rising on shelves, the commodity’s prices also continue to shoot higher in the market. The price of a 90-kilo bag of maize has shot to 4,500 shillings from 2,800 shillings in December and 3,700 in March.

A 2-kilogram packet of Pembe, Ajab, and Jogoo maize flours now retail at 144 shillings, 148 shillings, and 140 shillings, respectively, on different supermarket shelves across the country.

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The price increase attributed to the rise in the cost and scarcity of corn in the market is the highest ever recorded in the country for years.

Millers says there have been difficulties getting maize stocks in the market at the back of reduced imports from the neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda countries. Maize imports from these two counties have been supplementing the country since the amount of stock produced is insufficient to meet the annual requirements. Currently, most imports from Uganda are heading to South Sudan, where they are fetching a reasonable price.

The food balance sheet report released by the Ministry of Agriculture last month indicates that growers are holding 8.5 million bags of maize stocks out of 10.1 million bags of 90Kgs, which has left millers facing a grain shortage, subjecting consumers to high prices of flour. Agriculture CS 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.

The country’s continuous drought has also significantly affected maize production. Rainfall in October and November 2021 was less than 60 percent of the 40-year average across much of northern and eastern Kenya, with some areas registering a significant delay to the start of the season or no onset of rainfall.

This will be the first maize imports from outside of the EAC bloc since 2017. In 2017, the cost of a 2kg of maize flour hit 136 shillings due to the acute drought experienced at the time.






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