The government may not be able to meet the September 31 deadline to stop maize importation.
This was confirmed by the agriculture CS Will Bett who said that the subsidy programme could continue until December.
Though some stakeholders have termed this as a political move, an industry expert who did not want to be named said it takes two to three months for maize imports to reach to the millers.
He explained that it takes about 40 days for a vessel to get to Mombasa from Mexico, loading of maize to a ship takes about 10-15 days while off-loading of the commodity at the Port of Mombasa takes 10 days.
“From the day of gazettement, the earliest maize imports can get to the millers is between two to three months. It may not be possible to meet the September 31 deadline," he said.
On Sunday, Bett was quoted in the media saying; “The subsidy programme could continue until December as the projections for the expected harvest could be low. This is due to the drought experienced during the long rain season and the devastating fall armyworm which could lead to between 25-30 percent harvest losses.”
The Sh6 billion subsidy programme was started in May to reduce the price of a 2kg packet of maize flour in the country. The programme was to end in August but in July, the government extended the duty free importation of maize to September in a special Kenya Gazette notice signed by the Treasury CS.
This did not go well with growers who said the move could hurt prices of maize once the harvest hit the local market.
The expert added that the importation deadline may also not be achievable as the country will still be in need of grains for processing unga and the main harvest from Rift Valley region will not have reached the local market by then.
“The subsidy was only meant for maize flour processing but there is still a shortage for all other manufacturing processes of whole grain maize such as breakfast cereals and other food uses. A mechanism should be put in place to avail maize to those who want to use it as whole grain including cooking of githeri,” he stated.