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Why Kenyans will soon have to pay extra for maize flour

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021 11:30 | By
Trucks stuck at Namanga as row over maize imports remains unresolved. Photo/PD/File

SHORTAGE: Kenyans could soon pay more for maize flour if importation of safe grains from Tanzania and Uganda does not stabilise soon.

Cereal Millers Association (CMA) said it is concerned that at present there are no significant stocks to ensure unrestricted supply of maize flour, a situation that has already pushed up the prices of both maize and flour.

It said its members, who account for over 40 per cent of processed flour in the country, are holding stocks of only about 1.5 million bags.

Kenya consumes an average of three million 90kg bags of maize per month, some of which must be imported due to differences in harvesting periods in the various counties.

Lack of coordination

“Cereal Millers Association notes with concern that the lack of coordination and communication between relevant government and regulatory agencies regarding the recent ban on maize imports from Uganda and Tanzania will result in maize flour prices increasing,” the millers said in a statement. 

“In Nairobi, the prices of raw grain have moved to Sh2,800 from Sh2,500. Consequently, we have seen the price of a maize flour bale increase to Sh1,250 with room for a further price increment should the situation not to be resolved immediately,” it added.

The association said it welcomed a ban on maize that contains aflatoxin levels above the 10 parts per billion threshold but requested the government to allow maize that does not breach this level be allowed in to avoid a grain shortage.

On March 5, Kenya banned the importation of maize from Tanzania and Uganda, saying surveillance and tests done on maize from the two countries had shown that most of it was infected with aflatoxin.

The move elicited protests from Tanzania and Uganda with the East African Community (EAC) Director General for Customs and Trade, ‎Kenneth Bagamuhunda, describing it as unilateral.

A week later, Kenya lifted the ban but under strict conditions that all consignments coming in must be accompanied with a certificate of conformity on aflatoxin levels and that traders to give details of their warehouses.

From the CMA statement, however, it is clear that even those importing safe maize into the country are still finding it difficult to bring the grains into the country.

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