Farmers have downplayed the ultimatum by the Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria to release their stocks to the market in 72 hours, saying growers are not hoarding the grain.
Chairman of the Cereal Growers Association Farnie Kruger says farmers, especially in Uasin Gishu County have just started harvesting their produce and that it will take a while before it gets to the market.
Mr Kruger says Uasin Gishu County has lagged in harvesting because of the late rains witnessed in the region during this year's planting season.
“No one is hoarding maize and the statement by the CS was unfortunate. You cannot force farmers who are still harvesting to sell their maize in 72 hours,” said Mr Kruger.
“The Uasin Gishu crop was a month late because of delayed rains and it’s now that farmers are harvesting,” he added.
Farmers in Trans-Nzoia County are almost done with harvesting, which started in September. The two counties are the country’s main breadbasket.
Mr Kuria on Sunday gave farmers a 72-hour ultimatum to release stocks to the market, warning that failure to do that will see the government open the import window.
“You have 72 hours to release the maize in your stores before the Cabinet meets on Tuesday to approve the decision to import, this is because we do not want anyone to die of hunger,” said Mr Kuria.
Mr Kuria had said a fortnight ago that the government would open a duty-free import window for 10 million bags of maize.
The CS had said the gazette notice to that effect would be published last week, however, it is yet to be gazetted after farmers and politicians opposed the move, claiming that the country is now harvesting the long rains crop and imports would hit them severely.
The MPs have urged the government to drop the plans as farmers are currently harvesting the main crop for this season.
Millers have welcomed the imports, saying they will play a key role in addressing the current high prices in the market.
This comes even as the price of maize has hit a high of Sh6,000 for a 90-kilogramme bag from Sh5,000 in a span of two weeks.
The rising cost has added more pressure on flour prices with a two-kilogramme packet now retailing at Sh213 from Sh180 early this month.