• Millions of farmers grow 40 million bags of maize annually protected by a 50 percent import tariff
• Every year connected individuals make fortunes importing duty-free maize from low-cost producers like USA and Brazil
Earlier this week Trade CS Betty Maina said trade deals with the USA and the UK could allow Kenyan farmers to diversify away from maize.
High value products such as avocado, flowers and horticulture are certainly more profitable than maize.
Everyone wants farmers to be better off. Something needs to be done to help the Kenyan farmer.
But a free trade agreement with the USA would make things worse for the Kenyan farmer.
Millions of small farmers grow 40 million bags of maize every year for the local market. Farmers complain that maize is unprofitable but they are still protected by a 50 percent import tariff. When there are shortages, a few connected people make huge profits by getting licences and importing maize duty-free from the USA, South Africa and Brazil.
If there is a free trade agreement with the USA, there will be no protective tariff for Kenyan maize farmers who will then not be able to compete with giant low-cost American farms.
We all want Kenyan small farmers to grow more high-value crops and make more money. But allowing duty-free American maize imports is not the way forward.
Quote of the day: The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.
W. E. B. Du Bois
The African-American activist died on August 27, 1963