FOOD SECURITY

Cereal Growers oppose importation of duty free maize

They have further said VAT introduction to fuel and pesticides has pushed the cost of production higher by 15 per cent.

In Summary

• They also want the government to carry out a proper assessment in order to establish if the country does not have enough maize.

• Kiunjuri had said that the importation of both yellow and white maize will be opened when the stacks are exhausted.

A farmer goes through his maize plantation. Photo/Elkana Jacob
A farmer goes through his maize plantation. Photo/Elkana Jacob

The Cereal Growers Association has blamed the government for sidelining farmers with its plans to import duty-free maize.

Addressing the press on Wednesday in Nairobi, the association said that the government has made the agricultural environment worse by its latest strategies.

CGA Chairman Furries Kulger said the plans by the government to import duty-free maize in July is untimely and will coincide with harvesting period.

 

"Declared maize importation coincides with the start of the maize harvesting season in the South Rift region, which accounts to 3 to 4 million bags of maize annually," Kulger said.

The association said that the government should consider supporting its farmers in order to ensure that the country is producing enough food to feed the country.

They also want the government to carry out a proper assessment in order to establish if the country does not have enough maize, adding that some farmers are still holding maize in their stores.

The farmers further said VAT introduction to fuel and pesticides has pushed the cost of production higher by 15 per cent. CGA said the policy is unfriendly to the farmer and should be immediately reversed.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri had earlier met with millers and animal feed manufacturers and said that the government has plans in place, including waving of 50 per cent duty imposed on imported grain from outside East Africa Community region.

Kiunjuri had said that the importation of both yellow and white maize will be opened when the stacks are exhausted.

 "We are watching the situation closely to ensure that proper mechanism for importation is put in place to avoid being caught unawares in the last minute," Kiunjuri said.

 

Food prices, especially of maize flour, have been escalating in the last month due to low supply. Farmers are not delivering their maize to the National Cereals and Produce Board.

Last month, Kiunjuri had said that the government is monitoring food situation and if it reaches unattainable levels, then the state will release more maize into the market to stabilise prices.

"Due to the delayed onset of the 2019 long rains, the maize market prices have started showing an upward trend ranging from Sh2,200 to Sh2,800 as at April 1, 2019, while the 2kg maize flour packet is retailing at Sh80 to Sh85," Kiunjuri said.