Commerce

Kenya may import food to avert crisis

Monday, May 16th, 2022 00:13 | By
Maize warehouse. Photo/PD/Library

The government is considering importing maize to avert a looming food crisis as maize and wheat stocks record sharp drop.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the country will run out of stocks in the next few months signalling tough times ahead for Kenyans.

“We are working on logistics and consulting as well with a view to allowing import to stabilise the market which is currently characterised by high food prices,” said Munya during the launch of a national potato taskforce. The admission of inadequate food stocks comes as prices for 90 kilogramme bag of white maize is retailing at between Sh4,300 and Sh5,000 in the local market.

“The country’s food stocks have continued to decrease tremendously due to the effects of the prolonged drought, erratic rains and external shocks, for example, the Ukraine-Russia war,” Munya said.

While he declined to reveal how much the government intends to import, millers had proposed 4.5 million bags to be imported before harvest.

High market prices

“Foodstuff prices are increasing daily and soon the consumer purchasing power will be deeply frustrated owing to steep rise in prices. Maize stocks in the region are equally not enough and expensive,” said Kennedy Nyaga, chairman of the United Grain Millers Association in a phone interview.

However, even as the local market is grappling with decreasing stocks, Munya said traders have been exporting the commodity to more lucrative markets in Southern Sudan and DR Congo where prices are said to be higher.

“Before we allow imports into the country we urge maize players with stocks to take advantage of the current high market prices. The prices might change drastically once more maize is allowed into the country,’ he added.

Traders under the East African Grain Council said currently there are imports landing into the local market Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia.

“The situation is dire as an acute shortage looms. This has led to an increase in the price of a 90kg bag of maize to between Sh4,300 and Sh5,000 in the last four months contributing to sharp increase of food prices,” said Gerald Masila EAGC executive director in a phone interview.

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