The government’s plan to import some 12 million bags of maize to bridge the current supply deficit should be implemented cautiously so as not to hurt the bulk of local farmers who grow the crop.
While it is apparent that the country faces shortage of the commodity given the price increases of the staple, past experience has shown that there is always a risk of importing more than is needed. It is expected that in a few weeks up to five million bags of maize will be harvested in the southern part of the Rift Valley, but this is far from enough given that total annual deficit is normally at least 10 million bags.
The fear, however, is that should all the 12 million bags be imported then it could shut out some of the locally produced maize, especially if the imports do not come immediately but arrive after October when the crop from the northern part of the Rift Valley is ready for sale.
It has also emerged that some large farmers hoard the crop until they see higher market prices, which is what has been witnessed in local private markets but this has come at the expense of the consumer who has to pay a premium to get the staple.
All in all, the biggest problem the country is facing is that production has lagged behind consumption.