Tussle as Ugandan and Tanzanian Businessmen Rush for Kenyan Maize

President William Ruto and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.jpg
President William Ruto and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni during a meeting in Uganda in August 2022
Yoweri Museveni

Middlemen from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have been rushing to Trans Nzoia and other counties to purchase maize at a cheaper price.

This comes amid the skyrocketing price of maize, a Kenyan staple, in supermarkets and a plan by President William Ruto to import yellow maize.

Speaking to the press, farmers from Trans Nzoia, which recorded a good harvest this season, noted that they are struggling to determine whether to sell the commodity to Kenyan middlemen or their counterparts from the neighbouring countries.

"Most of the buyers here are Ugandans and Tanzanians because they are saying maize is scarce in Uganda," stated Rodgers Barasa, one of the farmers.

Maize Flour
Maize flour stacked at a supermarket.
Kilimo News

The farmers further lamented that they are selling a 90-kilogramme sack of maize at Ksh3,500, a drop from Ksh6,500 the farmers anticipated.

"Maize prices are at their worst right now. The middlemen have been buying it at between Ksh3,000 and Ksh3,500," corroborated Andrew Sebei.

"The government should have released its price range even if it is between Ksh4,000 and Ksh5,000 because the economy is bad and we are struggling."

The tussle comes at a time when Uganda is faced with a scarcity of the crucial product which necessitated a ban on its export.

In early September, the farmers were jubilant when the President Yoweri Museveni-led government sought to impose a ban on the exportation of maize of which Kenya was among the beneficiaries.

At the time, millers and farmers argued that a ban on exportation would help them retain husks which are used to manufacture animal feeds. The neighbouring country is estimated to produce a paltry 2.5 million tonnes in 2023.

Tanzania, on the other hand, froze exportation of the maize to Kenya and other countries hinting that it was not all rosy in the President Samia Suluhu-led country.

Meanwhile, households in Kenya are forced to dig deeper into their pockets to afford the staple meal with some brands retailing for as high as Ksh200 for a 2kg packet.

Ruto Importing Maize

Despite a bumper harvest, President William Ruto on Friday unveiled plans to import duty-free yellow maize in an effort to lower the high cost of living.

The Head of State, however, failed to provide the timelines but confirmed that the funds for the project had already been set aside by the Treasury.

He also noted that he was working on doubling down on the provision of cheap farm inputs such as fertiliser and seed to boost production.

President William Ruto enjoys boiled maize in Busia County on August 26, 2023.
President William Ruto enjoys boiled maize in Busia County on August 26, 2023.