EDITORIAL: Vet posho mills

Maize harvesting
Maize harvesting in Uasin Gishu County. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Plans by the State to release 390,000 bags of maize to posho mill operators in a subsidy programme meant to curb rising flour prices is likely to come as a relief for the urban and rural poor. Posho mill operators, together with small-scale millers, serve about 70 percent of the population, especially in rural areas, and giving them maize at a subsidised cost could ease food-induced inflation and the amount that poor families spend on the staple food. If well implemented, the plan should ensure that the targeted consumers benefit from the cheap maize. And that is where the real test lies.

It is not lost on observers that posho mill operators were a last-minute inclusion in the programme. The question now arises: Who are these operators and what is their distribution across the country? How will they be selected and who are their primary customers? With Sh897 million maize on offer in the posho mills quota, lack of clarity on such crucial questions creates the impression that this is a loophole that is likely to be abused by unscrupulous individuals both inside and outside the government.

Whereas it is commendable that both large- and small-scale millers set to get the subsidised maize have already been vetted, the same should be extended to the targeted posho mill operators. This is one way to insulate the programme and ensure that the cost benefit trickles down to the intended consumers, not to line the pockets of the greedy.