AFLATOXIN FIGHT

Maize prices up by Sh200 after import rules tightened

Regulations have also ensured cleaner produce in market

In Summary
  • A 90 kg bag of maize in Nairobi has gone up from Sh2,600 to Sh2,800 since the ban was announced in March 5.  
  • But the price of unga has not changed and a 2kg packet of maize meal in Nairobi supermarkets is selling at between Sh95 to Sh115. 
Maize stocks at the NCPB depot in Eldoret.
MAIZE: Maize stocks at the NCPB depot in Eldoret.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI
Workers loading maize at the NCPB stores in Eldoret.
DEPOTS OPENING: Workers loading maize at the NCPB stores in Eldoret.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI
Packets of maize and wheat flour in a supermarket
Packets of maize and wheat flour in a supermarket
Image: FILE

The prices of maize have gone up since the government introduced stringent measures to reduce importation of contaminated maize into the country. 

Currently, a 90kg bag is selling at Sh2,800 at the farm gate to Sh3,000 in the market in some parts of the country. In Nairobi, the price of a bag of maize has gone up from Sh2,600 to Sh2,800. 

According to a miller who did not want to be named, the prices have seen an upward shift, “but we have seen cleaner maize in the market,” the miller said.

On March 5, the government through the Agriculture and Food Authority, stopped maize imports due to high levels of aflatoxin.  

AFA acting director general Kello Harsana said test result for maize imported from Uganda and Tanzania have revealed high levels of mycotoxins, “that are consistently beyond safety limits of 10 parts per billion (ppb).”

“We wish to bring to your attention that AFA has stopped any further imports of the maize into Kenya with immediate effect. The republic of Kenya is however committed to facilitating safe trade with her trading partners and look forward to working closely with all stakeholders to address the concern,” he said.

AFA lifted the ban and instead gave stringent measures that must be followed. They include registration of all traders by the authority, traders must have a register of origin of maize and destination.

“Additional testing will take place at the border by AFA officers apart from existing testing by KEBs. All consignments must have a certificate of conformity from either the Tanzania Bureau of Standards of Uganda Bureau of Standards,” AFA said.

Millers have said there is enough maize in the market for now as farmers in the North Rift are still selling their maize to millers and traders.

“But coming into mid-April, there is need to ensure that the country has clean maize coming into the country to avert a crisis of maize shortage,” the miller said.  

However, prices of maize meal on the shelves has not changed. In Nairobi, a 2kg packet of maize meal is selling at between Sh95 to Sh115, but this may change if the issue on maize importation is not resolved quickly.

Cereal Millers Association CEO Paloma Fernandes, in an article published in the local media, said that government can go a step further by working with their East African counterparts to form a regional multi-agency team.

“Working with other countries will ensure a coordinated regulatory mechanism is put in place to reduce the levels of contaminated maize being produced and subsequently crossing our borders and food chains,” she said.

She said funding for such policies should be a priority for policymakers and bureaucrats in the East African Community ahead of the budget making process that is set to take place over the next few weeks.  

-Edited by Sarah Kanyara