If Kenyans were hoping for a ray of hope in the horizon, they must have been rudely dashed after local millers warned that flour prices would continue rising. According to the millers, the shortage of maize in the country is getting worse with a 90 kilogramme bag rising 39 percent to Sh3,200 over the past two weeks.
Given that maize flour is Kenya’s main staple, any price increase is bound to have serious ramifications for the general economy.
Pressure on the inflation rate has been increasing and will ultimately hurt majority of the household budgets. Kenya has borne the brunt of shortages and biting drought, which have left many wondering where the reprive will come from.
The government has not helped any bit with the weather forecast agency facing public criticism for severally promising rain that is yet to come. While the government argues that it will release stocks in the National Cereals and Produce Board stores into the market to curb a further rise in prices, the millers argue that the prevailing retail price does not reflect the cost of the produce.
What Kenyans are yearning for is a long-term solution to the problem. The government agencies have been blamed for not reading from the same script. While the official line is that there is enough food in the country, that situation is not replicated in some areas where residents are in constant search for their next meal.
It is estimated that of the 21 million bags of maize available in the country the stock being held at the household level is 13 million bags, which represents 61 percent of the total produce. Farmers rightly argue that they cannot afford to sell their harvest at the proposed prices as it would leave them at a major loss as theyargue that they spoent more on the inputs and other costs.
We aver that policy interventions that will resolve the situation are needed fast. It makes no sense to have one part of the country hoarding maize in stores due to low prices while in another part people cannot access the cereal and are going hungry.
We call on the main stakeholders to move quickly and avert the crisis. Time has come for all to move beyond mere talk and offer lasting solutions to the food crisis.