FOOD

Kenya's maize imports down as ban hits Uganda, Tanzania

Imports in March decreased by 146,707 bags of 90 kgs compared to 637,489 bags in February this year

In Summary

• Kenya imported 473, 000 bags of maize from Uganda and 157, 000 bags from Tanzania in February. 

• The imports decreased to over 70, 000 bags of 90 kgs from both countries in March.

Maize in a warehouse /FILE
Maize in a warehouse /FILE

Kenya's maize imports reduced by  490,782 bags in March down from 637,489 bags in February, according to the latest Agriculture Ministry report.

The latest Ministry of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Security report shows the country imported 146,707 bags of 90 kilos each in March.

According to the report, the drop is due to the stoppage of maize importation from Uganda and Tanzania.

“The decrease is attributed to Kenya’s policy change on increased surveillance and restriction of importation of maize reported to have high-levels of aflatoxin,” says the report.

In March 5, 2021, Kello Harsana Agriculture and Food Authority acting director general issued a notice stopping any further imports of  maize into Kenya.

He said the move came after test results for maize imported from Uganda and Tanzania revealed high levels of mycotoxins, beyond safety limits of 10 parts per billion (ppb).”

To continue importing, the East African Community member countries will be required to meet stringent sanitary standards before entering the Kenyan market.

The report indicates that maize importation was higher in June last year with 1.7 million bags of maize brought in.

In July 2020, 800,000 bags were imported and by August 2020, the trend started decreasing as harvesting of the long rains crop started l3ading to increased supplies into the market.

During this period, millers reported that consumers purchasing power was low, attributing this to the loss of jobs  and salary cuts by many  following the country’s lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report shows that imports picked in January this year to 545, 850 bags of 90 kilos  when demand for the commodity rose.

In February, the country imported 637,489 bags but the trend went down again after the announcement by the Ministry of Agriculture stopping maize importation  from Uganda and Tanzania where the bulk of the country’s imports comes from.

The bulk of the imports was from Busia and Malaba borders. 298,000 bags were imported into the country through Busia and 174, 000 bags through Malaba in February.

In March, over 40,000 bags of maize came through Busia and 34,000 bags from Malaba, another 38,000 bags came through Loitokitok, 20,000 bags through Isebania and more than 5,000 bags through the Namanga border.  

The report further indicates that Uganda had the largest share of the maize imports in February at 473, 000 bags and 157, 000 bags from Tanzania but in March, imports from the two countries was just slightly over 70,000 bags.