First duty-free maize imports to dock at the port on Sunday


Maize in sacks near Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County after drying. FILE PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NMG

The first consignment of cheap maize will arrive in the country on March 12, signalling relief to consumers who are currently grappling with the high cost of the staple on the shelves.

The ship carrying 42,464 tonnes of maize from the Port of Odesa in Ukraine will mark the first consignment to have arrived in the country since the authorisation of duty-free imports a month ago.

Millers say the imports will only lower the price if the ships carrying maize consignments will be docking at the port at least every week.

“If there will be more coming every week then it will help to address the current high prices of flour. The cost will also depend on the price at which they are landing in Mombasa,” said Ken Nyaga, chairman United Grain Millers Association.

The price of flour has shot to Sh200 for a two-kilogramme packet in the last one week from Sh180 on the back of a sharp rise in the cost of maize, which now stands at Sh6,100 for a 90-kilogramme bag.

Traders who were issued with importing licenses were compelled to sign a memorandum of understanding with the government committing that the maize will land in the country at Sh4,200 for a 90-kilogramme bag.

The move saw millers pull out of the import programme as they said it would be difficult to get maize landing in Kenya at the government’s desired price.

The Ministry of Agriculture is looking at alternatives to lower the cost of flour with top officials visiting Zambia this week to negotiate a grain deal with the Southern Africa country.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi and his Principal Secretary Harsama Kellow were in Lusaka on Monday where they held discussions with their Zambian counterpart on maize imports and production.

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