The Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC) has distanced itself from claims that it is behind the importation of 10,000 metric tonnes of maize that arrived at the port of Mombasa last week.
KNTC managing director Pamela Mutua told Parliament that the corporation has not made any import orders for maize and that after inquiries on the docked vessel bearing the grain, the corporation was informed that it was shipped in by a UN agency for relief supplies for the East Africa region.
The Trade Committee of the National Assembly had invited the KNTC management to shed light on the planned importation of GMO maize into the country.
The ship carrying the maize arrived at the port just days after the State said it would open a duty-free window for the importation of the produce.
“We have not imported any maize. There have been claims that the 10,000 metric tonnes of maize that landed in the port of Mombasa belong to us. That is not true,” Ms Mutua told the Trade committee of the National Assembly.
MPs from maize-growing areas have opposed the importation of the grain at the time farmers are harvesting the long rains season crop.
Trade CS Moses Kuria has announced that traders will be allowed to import up to 10 million bags of both genetically modified maize and conventional grain in the next six months to address the current shortage of the product, which has kept the price of flour high.
The previous duty-free import window that had been opened in June closed on November 1. However, millers and traders were unable to ship the product due to high international prices.
“We were instructed to look at how to stabilise the prices of rice, beans, cooking oil and sugar. This is what is within our purview,” Ms Mutua said.
“We were not asked to import maize. We are currently negotiating with banks to secure funding. We buy food from local suppliers and we have not engaged in any imports.”
She said KNTC received Sh660 million in the last financial year to buy rice from Mwea and Kisumu and distribute it to government institutions at subsidised rates.