Millers accused of cooking up maize shortage

MP says they are colluding with cartels to prompt importation for lower prices at farmers' expense

In Summary

• Millers have complained about high prices of up to Sh3,800 with some opting to shut down. 

• MP accuses CS Kiunjuri of focusing too much on millers yet farmers provide food for the country.

Maize that is to be sold to millers at the NCPB depot in Eldoret on July 20
ARTIFICIAL DEFICIT: Maize that is to be sold to millers at the NCPB depot in Eldoret on July 20

Farmers are selling maize at more than Sh3,800 per bag in Rift Valley where millers have also complained of shortage of the commodity.

Millers have complained about the high prices with some opting to shut down. 

But Moiben MP Silas Tiren has accused them of colluding with cartels to 'cook up' a shortage of maize.

This comes amid an ongoing row over the plan to import more than 19 million bags to ease possible deficits. 

“We know there is a scheme by millers and cartels to create an artificial shortage so that cartels are allowed to import and flood local markets to the disadvantage of farmers,” Tiren said. 

The MP has accused Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri of giving a lot of attention to millers yet farmers are key stakeholders in the sector. 

“Even at most meetings, the CS keeps on referring to millers yet his main interest should be the local farmers. He should protect local producers who can give the country food at cheaper costs and not people who are in business like millers,” the MP said. 

Some of the millers' representatives led by Paul Ajey said they had been unable to access maize from the National Cereals and Produce Board which would be cheaper.

The NCPB has offered to sell another 440,000 bags of maize to the millers at Sh2,300 per bag.

“That is better but still the maize at NCPB is inadequate and we cannot go for what the farmers are offering at the high prices because that would be uneconomical and the price of flour will go higher,” Ajey said. 

Kiunjuri has been in dispute with Strategic Food Reserves Fund chairman Noah Wekesa who insists that the country does not need to import maize because farmers in many areas will be harvesting in the next two months. 

Wekesa said not more than two million bags should be brought in from within the East African Community "just for purposes precaution in case there will be any shortages".

Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo said the government should offer better prices to farmers so they can release the stocks they are still holding from last year’s produce. 

It's estimated that many farmers are holding up to two million bags in their stores after they failed to sell citing low prices offered by the government at the NCPB.

Edited by R.Wamochie