Kenyan wheat farmers are worried that imports from Tanzania could price them out of the market.
The East Africa Community in a gazette notice dated July 13, has cleared 27 Kenya manufacturers to import more than three million tonnes of wheat from the member state.
"In exercise of the powers conferred upon the Council of Ministers by section 140 of the East African Community Customs Management Act 2004, the Council of Ministers has approved the manufacturers to import specified quantities of wheat gain at a duty rate of 10 percent under the Duty Remission Scheme for twelve months," the notice stated.
Wheat farmers from Narok, Uasin Gishu and Nakuru now fear that millers will not buy their produce at a time when the harvesting season has started.
The farmers want millers to buy a 90kg bag at Sh3,600 while millers are currently buying at Sh3,200.
They argue that wheat prices have remained low at Sh3,000 per 90kg bag despite escalation of the cost of production driven by among other challenges the armyworm infestation.
Traders have however taken advantage of the bumper harvest due to the good rains and are currently buying a 90kg bag wheat from desperate farmers in Lower Narok which is the first to start harvesting at Sh2,200.
Agriculture and Irrigation chief administrative secretary Andrew Tuimur said last year, area under wheat farming was 146,804 hactares and the total production stood at 395,000 tonnes against an annual consumption of 990,000 tonnes.
He said the deficit of 595,000 tonnes is sourced from countries like Tanzania.
Tuimur assured farmers that the price issue will be addressed an that all their wheat will be bought
Nick Hutchinson from the Cereal Millers Association said wheat farmers in Kenya provide only 15 percent of the country's need and that the country would go hungry without importation.
"Kenyan farmers need to get serious and increase their production. It is absolutely impossible to buy local wheat and not import. There isn't enough,” he said.
He said if millers were to rely on what is produced in Kenya they would not meet the local supply of wheat flour and other products.
“In addition, most of the wheat produced locally is of low quality and you have to mix it to get the required quality,” he said.