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February 22, 2018

State to allow maize imports in March to tame food prices

The Ship carrying 42000 tones of maize at the port of Mombasa berth number 3 on June 30,2017.Photo / JOHN CHESOLI
The Ship carrying 42000 tones of maize at the port of Mombasa berth number 3 on June 30,2017.Photo / JOHN CHESOLI

The government will from March allow importation of maize from Uganda and Tanzania to avert an increase in unga prices.

Agriculture CS Willy Bett on Tuesday said the maize the National Cereals and Produce Board is buying from farmers in the North Rift can only last until end of February. The board is buying a 90kg bag at Sh3,200.

“We are closely monitoring the situation to ensure a 2kg packet of maize flour does not increase from the Sh110 to Sh115 that the government agreed with millers. By February, we are expecting that the supply of maize will start declining and importation will help stabilise the prices,” he said.

Bett said there has been progress in the purchasing of maize from farmers this year compared to last year. This is despite a reduced maize harvest against a growing demand. The NCPB has bought two million 90kg bags of maize against the country’s monthly demand of three million. It is targetting to buy another 500,000 bags.

Bett said Kenya is a maize-deficit country and continues to import maize from its East African neighbours and international sources to meet demand. “Our traders are importing from Uganda to meet demands of the customers. Soon we will consider waiving import duty to allow millers to import in bulk to meet demand and to stabilise the local market,” he said.

A 90kg bag of maize is retailing at between Sh3,600 to 2,400 in Kenya, while in Uganda the bag goes for Sh2,500 to Sh2,000.

According to a report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, between July and September 2017, Kenya brought in 92 per cent of the region’s imports, approximately 144,329 tonnes. Out of this, maize imports were, 22, 35, and 43 per cent from Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia.

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