Millers will start buying maize from the National Cereals and Produce Board from Monday.
Purchase follows President Uhuru Kenyatta’s announcement that the government will release 1.7 million 90kg bags of maize at Sh1,600 per bag and 300,000 bags of animal feed at Sh1,400 per bag.
Peter Kuguru, chairman of the United Grain Millers Association, said they are ready to pick the maize from the NCPB starting Monday.
The maize being held by the NCPB is part of the maize that was imported from Mexico for the maize subsidy programme aimed at cushioning Kenyans from high costs of unga following a maize shortage in 2017.
NCPB reported last month they have 240,000 bags of the imported maize in their stores and that part of it had started discoloring.
“The market is saturated with about 30 million bags of maize so the maize from the cereals board will ensure stability of the price of maize flour at between Sh90 and Sh100 per 2kg packet. I call upon the cereals board MD to open up the depots for millers by Monday,” Kuguru said.
In 2016, the government allowed importation of duty-free maize into the country following a prolonged drought in the region that resulted in a maize shortage and increase in the cost of a 2kg packet of unga to Sh150.
To address the maize deficit and escalating flour prices, the government initiated a maize subsidy programme in May 2017 to caution consumers against high cost of unga.
Uhuru also authorised the Strategic Food Reserve to purchase two million of 90kg bags of maize at Sh2, 500 from Sh2,300 per bag.
The millers welcomed the announcement on the maize price increase from Sh2, 300 to Sh2,500 saying this will not have any effect on the price of unga.
“Following various government interventions and the good weather experienced in 2018, we have had a bumper harvest to the tune of 46 million bags. In addition, there is about 2.5 million bags carried over form the 2017 harvest,” Uhuru said in statement.
Kuguru clarified that the grain the President announced would be purchased for Sh2,500 is not for resale in the market but for storage by the cereals board for the SFR in case of drought or famine.