Reprieve as Maize Imports to Curb Shortage Arrive

  • An image of maize flour
    A file photo of maize flour on display at a supermarket in Nairobi.
  • Kenyans can now sigh with relief after some millers began importing maize from outside the East African Community to address the biting shortage that has pushed prices up.

    In mid-May, the State, through National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani, opened a three-month window allowing importation of the commodity.

    Some of the millers have reported that the grain has begun arriving in the country even as the price of a 2Kg packet of the staple food continues to rise.

    In some of the outlets, the packet retails for as high as Ksh205 forcing Kenyans to dig deeper into their pockets. Other essential commodities that have seen sharp rise in prices, include cooking oil which has gone up by 40% and soap.

    Undated image of maize stored in a warehouse
    Undated image of maize stored in a warehouse
    Capital Group

    The maize has begun arriving into the country through the Busia border with authorities noting that it is not enhanced by the genetically modified organism (GMO).

    In May, Treasury approved the importation of maize on the condition that it does not contain any GMOs.

    “In consequence of the notification of an impending maize crisis in the country by the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock Fisheries and Co-operatives, a waiver of import duty has been granted for the importation of not more than 540,000 metric tonnes of white non-genetically-modified organism (GMO) maize grain.

    "The waiver of import duty shall apply to white non-GMO maize imported into Kenya on or before August 6, 2022," read the statement in part.

    On June 12, millers announced that flour prices would be going up following a shortage in maize both locally as well as regionally.

    Peter Miiri, Kitui Flour Mills Chief Accountant noted that the price was estimated to go up in a week's time as millers continue to suffer a shortage in stocks. 

    He noted that locally, the drought, which has lasted for three years and affects over 18 million people, had caused a decrease in maize supply across the region.

    "We are extremely running low on raw materials which is maize which is being caused by disruptions in the supply chain in that local supply has dried up as well as regional supply.

    "The government's offer to import maize from abroad has been impossible because of the high cost of importation," Miiri revealed.

    Cooking oil products on sale
    Cooking oil products on sale.
    File