Kenyan team set to assess Indian wheat


A worker sifts wheat at a grain market in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh. PHOTO | REUTERS

Kenya has completed a risk analysis on Indian wheat amid pressure from millers pushing the government to lift the ban to allow importation of the produce even as the Ministry of Agriculture wants processors to seek other alternatives.

The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) said it is done with a risk analysis and will be sending a team to India to assess if the fungi that led to export ban more than 30 years still exists.

“We are done with conducting the risk assessment and we shall be sending a team to India in coming weeks to conduct physical analysis to establish if India has a disease-free zone around the wheat growing zones,” said Kephis managing director Theophilus Mutui.

However, Agriculture Cabinet Minister Peter Munya castigated millers for pushing for their own interests when there are alternative markets across the world.

“What millers are saying is what they want because they are in business, we should not allow importation of Indian wheat just because they have said," Mr Munya said.

“The imports were banned because of a serious fungus disease and we do not want to introduce the same here in Kenya.”

Prof Mutui said India has one of the most dangerous beetles in the world and Kenya was not ready to allow importation of the wheat from this Asian nation without precautions for fear of introducing them locally.

Millers said last month that Kenya may run out of options on importation of wheat to cover for deficit if it failed to lift the restrictions on imports from India.

Ukraine war

Local millers are hardly accessing wheat from the Black Sea following the closure of ports along the shipping corridor as a result of war between Russia and Ukraine. Kenya gets nearly 66 percent of its supplies from the two nations.

Millers are concerned that a delay in planting in Ukraine, which normally starts in March, will have a negative impact on Kenya.

The processors said they are supposed to be making orders for the second half of the year now but it is impossible to get the stocks from Russia and Ukraine. Most countries, including Egypt and Tanzania, are procuring wheat from India to meet local deficit.

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