Govt Gives Way Forward on 10K Tonnes of Maize Held at Mombasa Port

  • A photo collage of Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria (left) and his Agriculture counterpart Mithika Linturi.
    A photo collage of Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria (left) and his Agriculture counterpart Mithika Linturi.
    File
  • The government quelled fears arising from the safety of the 10,000 tonnes of imported maize that landed at the Mombasa Port on Tuesday, November 22- confirming that it will first carry out numerous tests before releasing it to the public. 

    Speaking to the press, Kenya Bureau of Standards Managing Director Bernard Njiraini pointed out that the maize would be destroyed if it did not meet the necessary standards.

    He, however, assured Kenyans not to be alarmed about the safety standards.

    “It should not be a cause for any alarm. It shall eventually be tested if it meets the standards. We will then release it to the market. If it’s found unfit for human or animal use, it will be destroyed," he stated. 

    An Image of a cargo clearance officer supervising clearance at Mombasa port
    An Image of a cargo clearance officer supervising clearance at Mombasa port
    File

    "KEBS usually checks the suitability against the standards we have on contaminants. In this case, we shall seek to establish if the cargo has the certificate of compliance, and if it doesn’t have, we shall test it,” he added. 

    It was, however, unclear if the imported maize was genetically modified. 

    Among the standards the maize has to meet for public consumption includes 13.5 per cent moisture content.

    Elevated moisture levels lead to Aflatoxin, which can cause chronic complications if consumed. 

    The Kenya Port Authority (KPA) confirmed that a vessel carrying tonnes of maize docked at the Mombasa port from the Port of Beira in Mozambique. At the time, the maize was yet to be offloaded. 

    Linturi, Kuria Row

    Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria and his Agriculture counterpart Mithika Linturi appear to be reading from different scripts as the latter distanced himself from importing GMO maize. 

    Linturi claimed that he was unaware of any plans to ship GMOs into the country. 

    “I am the custodian of the ministry and am not ready to answer to what is being reported in social media,” Linturi stated at a press briefing in his office on Monday, November 28. 

    Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi during a meeting with the Council of Governors on Monday, November 28, 2022.
    Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi during a meeting with the Council of Governors on Monday, November 28, 2022.
    Ministry of Agriculture

    High Court Ruling

    Their row came amid High Court temporarily issuing an injunction preventing the government from importing GMOs pending the determination of the case filed by the Kenyan Peasants League. 

    The court will further give directions on the issue on December 15, 2022. 

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