Imported maize likely to take longer to arrive, says PS Kello

Shortage of maize and maize stocks from unusual suppliers account for delay in landing in Kenya

In Summary

• Government wants imported maize sold locally for Sh,299 per 90kg bag,plus a Sh300 logistics fee.

• Shortage of maize due to climate change and shortage of stocks, except in South Africa, mean maize will take  longer than expected to arrive.

Lorries ferrying maize outside the NCPB depot in Eldoret on March 15 last year.
LONG QUEUE: Lorries ferrying maize outside the NCPB depot in Eldoret on March 15 last year.

Imported maize will take longer to arrive due to climate change-induced shortage and low maize stock, Agriculture PS Kello Harsama has said,

Harsama told the Star during an interview on Monday traditional maize export sources for Kenya are experiencing low maize stock due to climate change.

“So far, the government has licensed more than 30 companies to import maize but they have not been able to source maize from outside,” he said.

Halsama said countries like Ethiopia, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda used to have surplus and ready market but these countries have also been affected by climate change and they do not have any maize.

“South Africa is the only country with maize stocks remaining in Africa and many countries are now scrambling for the commodity from South Africa. We are likely to have a challenge with maize arriving in time due to availability in the market,” he said.

The government has allowed maize importation from this month until August when the long rains maize harvest from South Rift will start getting into the market. 

On December 23, 2022, National Treasury and Planning CS Njuguna Ndung’u issued a gazette notice to allow duty-free importation of 900,000 metric tonnes of white maize grain, 600,000 metric tonnes of milled rice and 100,000 metric tonnes of sugar.

Millers and traders have been demanding to be allowed to import maize at between Sh5,500 to Sh6,000 for a 90kg bag.

But the PS said the government is seeking to have imported maize sold locally at Sh4,200 for a 90kg bag.

We have set the price based on the fact that taxes for the same have been waived so that the consumer can also benefit," Harsama said.

Kennedy Nyagah, chairman of United Grain Maize Millers (UGMA). said a delay in gazettement of the list of millers and traders allowed to import maize into the country might complicate the situation.

“A delay in maize importation might complicate the food situation in the country as local stock will soon deplete. Most of the farmers in the country have sold their maize as prices have been high although especially the whole of last year,” he told the Star.

Millers are buying a 90kg bag of white maize at between Sh4, 700 and Sh5,300 compared to Sh5,300 and Sh5,400 of imported maize at the Port of Mombasa.

“Once transported to Nairobi, the imported maize attracts a minimum of Sh300 as logistics fee and this makes the commodity more expensive compared to local quantities,” Nyagah said.

(Edited by V.Graham)

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