Economy

Sh300m maize declared as unfit sold to consumers

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Prof Hamadi Iddi Boga. PHOTO | COURTESY

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Summary

  • The government sold a quarter of maize stocks worth Sh342.3 million that had been condemned as unfit for human consumption, exposing consumers to cancer.
  • Parliament heard that the State released 51,640 bags worth Sh100.48 million or 30.3 percent of the total unfit stock of 176,225 bags
  • The maize was sold despite the Ministry of Public Health establishing that the 90-kilogramme packaged bags “contained high levels of aflatoxin and therefore unfit for human consumption.”

The government sold a quarter of maize stocks worth Sh342.3 million that had been condemned as unfit for human consumption, exposing consumers to cancer.

Parliament heard that the State released 51,640 bags worth Sh100.48 million or 30.3 percent of the total unfit stock of 176,225 bags

The maize was sold despite the Ministry of Public Health establishing that the 90-kilogramme packaged bags “contained high levels of aflatoxin and therefore unfit for human consumption.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), large doses of aflatoxin leads to acute poisoning (aflatoxicosis) that can be life-threatening, usually through damage to the liver.

Long-term or chronic exposure to aflatoxins has several health consequences and may affect all organ systems, especially the liver and kidneys. It can also cause liver cancer.

“The maize in Kitale has since been cleared after joint sampling and quality analysis by a joint team comprising NCPB and Public Health and was released for human consumption on May 3, 2019 leaving a balance of 124,625 of 90kg bags,” said Hamadi Boga, the Crops Development Principal Secretary said.

He told the Opiyo Wandayi led PAC that the initial analysis condemning the maize was conducted by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs).

Prof Boga contradicted findings by Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu who said Ministry of Public Works had ascertained that out of 6 million bags of maize in stock as at June 3, 2019, maize in 176,265 bags was found to contain high levels of aflatoxin.

Prof Boga said the SFR board decided to offload the balance of 124,625 bags of condemned maize into the market at Sh780 per bag which appeared to be competitive. The maize was grade 4 and was to be used for animal feeds.

“You are telling committee that maize of high aflatoxin levels was later found to be fit and released to the market for human consumption?” Mr Wandayi asked.

The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), which stores the strategic food reserves (SFR), held the 176,225 bags of maize contaminated with aflatoxin as at end of June 2019.

An earlier report, tabled before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, shows that about half of the maize with harmful aflatoxin levels was being held in Machakos and Nakuru depots.