Kenya sets sights on special maize imports deal with Zambia farmers


Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Mithika Linturi addresses journalists at Kilimo house on December 23, 2022. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NMG

Nairobi will next month sign contracts with farmers in Zambia to grow maize exclusively for export to the Kenyan market as the government seeks to lower the cost of the staple, with the first consignment under the agreements expected in August.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi said they have finalised the deal that has seen Kenya allocated at least 50,000 acres of land for growing maize in the current planting season.

The CS said the deal with the South African State has been informed by lower cost of production in Zambia and favourable weather.

Read: Kenya's maize imports hit five-year high

“Kenya will be signing a contract with local farmers in Zambia in the next one month that will see them grow maize for export to the Kenyan market,” said Mr Linturi.

The cost of maize flour has gone up in the last one week with a two-kilo packet now retailing at more than Sh200 from Sh186 for the same quantity last month, in line with the rising cost of the cereal that has seen a 90-kilo bag hit Sh6,100 from Sh5,300 previously.

Mr Linturi said the cost of production in Zambia is much lower when compared with Kenya, pointing out that a kilo of maize in Zambia retails at Sh40 currently as opposed to Sh90 locally.

Mr Linturi also said some of the large-scale farmers from Kenya will benefit from the programme as the Zambian government has agreed to allocate them land for production.

“A delegation from Kenya will meet with their counterparts in Zambia to decide the size of land that will be allocated to our local farmers to enable them to grow maize there for exports,” said Mr Linturi.

Mr Linturi and his Principal Secretary Harsama Kello were in Zambia last week to negotiate the land deal as the government looks at all options to lower the cost of living.

The State has opened imports for 10 million bags of maize but it has become difficult for traders to secure enough imports due to the scarcity of white maize in the world market.

Read: Duty-free maize imports call attracts 250 traders

Traders who were issued with importing licences 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-kilo bag.

Zambia has been a key source market for Kenya, especially in times when there are no sufficient stocks in regional countries like Tanzania and Uganda.

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