•The millers have also asked the Government to suspend levies and duties for to contain the price increase
•Kenya's key wheat growing zones are Narok, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Meru and Laikipia
Millers want the government to review the ban on wheat imports from India due to an earlier detection of fungus in the produce.
The Cereal Millers Association wants a risk analysis done to establish if the ban is still justified.
Kenya banned wheat imports from India after the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) raised concern over the fungus Tilletia Indica or Karnal Bunt (KB) named after the town of Karnal in India where it was first identified.
Cereal Millers Association chief executive Paloma Fernades, said by this time, millers should have started ordering wheat from Russia and Ukraine, which supply 33 per cent of the world’s wheat.
“Generally in the second half of the year, which would be now, we are supposed to start ordering wheat from Russia and Ukraine but now this is not available but the other alternative for wheat globally is India which has a glut,” she said.
She spoke during a virtual consultative meeting on the role of biotechnology in addressing the feed crisis in Kenya which was organised by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB).
Fernades said India has a plentiful harvest of wheat in March, April and June.
The millers have also asked the Government to suspend levies and duties for to contain the price increase.
“We are also asking the Government to help incentivise farmers locally so that they can produce more food, and if we do need to import, do that now so that we have stocks for our use later on,” Fernades said.
She said Indian wheat is significantly cheaper selling at a discount of about USD 50-80 dollars cheaper than the rest of the world which is at almost over 500 dollars per tonne.
Currently Nigeria, South Africa, Oman, Egypt and Israel have approached India to supply wheat to meet their demand. Tanzania and Uganda have also been allowed to purchase wheat from India.
“Unfortunately, Kenya has a ban on importation of wheat from India because of a fungus called karnal bunt. Therefore, we are unable to import from India yet our neighbours in Uganda and Tanzania will be able to import and there they will be more competitive than us in the market in terms of wheat,” she said.
Data from the Agriculture and Food Authority indicates that 90 per cent of wheat consumed in the country is imported from mainly Russia and Ukraine. The projected import target was at 2.7 million tonnes for the 2021-22 financial year.
The current national annual wheat consumption is 24 million bags against an annual production of about two million. Kenya's key wheat growing zones are Narok, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Meru and Laikipia.
Local and international prices of a 90kg bag of wheat is above Sh4,000.
Edited by A.N