LOOMING CRISIS

Unga prices rise as state keeps mum on maize imports

Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur says importing maize starts in August

In Summary

• Cabinet yet to decide on maize importation which will take 45 to 60 days.

• Millers say prices likely to continue rising as state has not clarified its plan.

A shop attendant puts in place packets of maize flour in a supermarket shelf.pic\Charles kimani
A shop attendant puts in place packets of maize flour in a supermarket shelf.pic\Charles kimani

The cost of maize flour is rising while the government remains silent about the promised importation of maize to stabilize prices.

A spot check shows prices have increased by at least Sh4.

A two-kilo packet of maize flour is currently going for between Sh120 and Sh130 in  supermarkets and retail shops.

Millers say the price is likely to continue rising as the government has not come out clearly on when maize importation will start.

Currently, millers are buying maize from importers from Tanzania at between Sh3,200 to Sh3,400.

In June, Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri confirmed the maize stock stood at slightly over four million bags and would last until end of July.

On Wednesday, Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur said the country will start importing maize from August.

But the Star has learnt that the Cabinet is yet to approve maize importation hence the delay. It takes 45 to 60 days to get non-GM maize from Mexico to the port of Mombasa, so the earliest the maize can get here is September.

Millers say it will be too late and the prices will have increased. Tuimur said the state will allow importation of 12.5 million bags which will take the country for about three months.

Out of this, 10 million bags will be white maize for human consumption and 2.5 million bags will be yellow maize for animal feeds.

“Kenyans consumer about four million bags of maize every month, so this will help stabilize the prices until we start receiving the bulk of the harvest from North Rift starting from mid-September,” he said.

The importation, Tuimur said, will be open to private sector and the government will only help with the logistics.

The Strategic Food Reserve board met on Thursday with millers and players in the maize sector to discuss the maize situation.