FOOD SECURITY

Cost of ugali expected to rise as maize shortage bites

The price increase is also attributed to a new market cess for cereal products that was introduced and costly maize in the market.

SHORTAGE LOOMS: Officials inspect SGR maize stocks at the NCPB depot in Eldoret.
Image by MATHEWS NDANYI
In Summary

•They are buying a 90kg bag at Sh4,200

•Previously millers used to get a bag of maize at Sh3,000.

Putting ugali on the table will soon cost you more, millers say, attributing this to a shortage of maize in the Kenyan market.

The price of maize flour could go up by Sh2 for a two-kilogramme packet due to shortages in the market with projections showing that the current stocks will last for two months.

A price survey by the Star showed that brands like Soko, Jogoo, Dola, Pembe and Ajab are currently selling at Sh 128, Sh125, Sh135, Sh134 and Sh131 respectively for a two-kilo packet at major retail outlets from an average of Sh 108 in December.

High-end brands like Hostess and Amaize on the other hand are retailing at Sh155 and Sh156 for a two-kilo packet.

United Grain Millers Association chairman, Ken Nyagah, whose organisation represents 60 per cent of the flour market in Kenya said they are hardly getting grain from farmers.

“We have no grain in this country, the little that was with National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has already been bought, it was not even enough, we were getting like 500 to 1000 bags, this is not to say that there was anything at NCPB, but by now they have depleted their stocks,” Nyagah told the Star.

He said they are currently getting the little available maize at Sh4,200 per 90kg bag of maize up from Sh3600. Previously millers sourced a bag of maize at Sh3000.

 “This has to take the price of unga up because currently as millers we are giving a bale of two kg of maize flour at Sh 1,500 to Sh 1,550. The whole track may go up even with almost Sh400,000 to Sh500,000,” said Nyagah.

He said the situation will prevail unless the government brings in maize. The only other option is to wait until around September when people harvest.

Nyaga urged the government to intervene and save consumers from high prices.

The price increase is also attributed to a new market cess for cereal products that was introduced and costly maize in the market.

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) announced that it has started charging market cess on cereal from produce delivered at respective millers’ premises in Nairobi.

Joseph Choge, Unga Limited CEO said cess alone could see the cost of flour go up by Sh2 once the cost is factored in the pricing.

Millers said they had been receiving reasonable stocks of maize from Tanzania in February but the volumes have declined.

Stocks  from Uganda are heading to South Sudan where they fetch a good price due to scarcity.

In 2020 Kenya imported about 277,350 tonnes of maize (3.1 million 90kg bags) with about 95 per cent of this coming from Uganda and Tanzania.

In January, the country imported more than 450,000 bags (90kg) of maize from Tanzania and Uganda and another 300,000 bags in February.