The Sh90 government subsidised maize flour was cleared off the shelves by Tuesday at major CBD retail outlets as consumers rushed to stock up ahead of the polls.
By 5pm Monday, Tuskys Ronald Ngala and OTC branches did not have the two-kilo flour. The situation was the same in Naivas branches even as hundreds of customers made inquiries.
A shop attendant at one of the Naivas branches said they had received 100 bales of flour but it was cleared on Monday afternoon owing to high demand.
“We have seen huge demand today from customers and were surprised that by 3pm we did not have even a single packet of the government-subsidy flour on the shelf,” said an attendant. The high demand was driven by fear of shortage and uncertainty over election outcome.
Last month, Naivas chief operation officer Willy Kimani said supplies had stabilised and they were receiving enough supplies. “There has been a great improvement on supplies of the flour from millers. We are now receiving more bales compared with the previous months,” said Mr Kimani.
Kenya has imported five million bags of maize in the past three months with the government saying increased supply of the staple has satisfied the market.
Millers said the imports had helped increase availability of flour as they were meeting all the orders from retailers.
The government is banking on the short-rain crop now being harvested in parts of the South Rift to ease the shortage. However, production this year is expected to drop compared with 2016, probably setting the stage for higher prices next year.
Production is forecast to drop from 37 million 90-kg bags last year to 28 million this year according to the government projection, factoring 25 per cent losses on the current crop.
It is armyworm invasion in major growing zones would cut production by five per cent with erratic weather pattern contributing 20 per cent of the yield losses.
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