• Millers want state to allow maize importation to feed the country for the next three months and to restock the grain reserve.
• Country uses 100,000 bags per day for milling and consumption.
Millers want the government to open the window for maize importation to avert a food crisis if the coronavirus outbreak worsens.
United Grains Millers Association chairman Ken Nyaga, said there is a shortage of maize in the country and the little that farmers have is contaminated with aflatoxin.
“But the shortage cannot be felt now because the demand for maize flour is low and Kenyans are not buying packaged maize flour as they did before. The importation will also help in restocking the Strategic Food Reserve, and this is an issue that the government needs to look into especially now with the Covid-19 outbreak. We need to be prepared in case a food crisis occurs,” Nyaga said.
He spoke to the Star on the phone yesterday.
Noah Wekesa, chairman of the Strategic Food Reserve, said the board had advised the government to start the process of buying maize to restock the grain reserve.
“Some Sh9 billion has been set aside to buy maize for the grain reserve which at any time should have at least four million bags of maize in case of an emergency,” he said.
A 90kg bag of maize is retailing at between Sh3,000 and Sh3,200.
Nyaga said the government should move with speed and restock SFR, and give millers licences to import maize that can feed Kenyans for the next three months.
“The government should move with speed and open the window for importation for licensed millers to ensure there is enough maize in the country without destabilising farmers,” he said.
He said the country uses 100,000 bags per day for milling and consumption. Out of this, millers use about 70 per cent for milling. In a month, the country uses about three million bags.
“We are asking the government to buy about three million bags of maize for SFR and let millers import the rest to run for three months till the next harvest starts coming in. This will supplement what will be in the reserve and also help stabilise prices in the market,” he said.
Edited by A. Ndung'u