Maize prices have hit a historic high with a 90-kilo bag now retailing at Sh6,000 in Nairobi, pointing to hard times for consumers who will incur the high cost of flour.
Millers are arguing that they are not getting enough stocks as farmers are not supplying and cross-border imports from Tanzania and Uganda have fizzled out.
This comes just a day after Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria said farmers are hoarding 20 million bags of maize from this season’s main crop season.
“The prices have jumped to Sh6,000 a bag delivered here in Nairobi from Sh5,000 just last week,” said Rajan Shah, chief executive officer of Capwell Industries.
Millers based in the North Rift are now buying the produce at Sh5,500 from Sh4,500 in the last week.
They say that with this impressive price, they are hardly getting enough stocks as the supply has tightened.
“We are procuring our stocks at Sh5,500 for a bag in Eldoret and Kitale from Sh4,700 last week for a 90-kilo bag,” said Atin Aggarwal, the CEO of Trident Millers.
Millers say the country is likely to run out of locally produced stocks by the end of January, a move that will add more pressure on prices.
The government has announced it will be opening up a duty-free window for maize imports to bridge the deficit.
The State says it will allow traders to ship in at least 10 million bags of GMO and non-GMO maize in the next six months.
This comes even as Kenya’s key source markets are selling their stocks to other countries where they fetch a premium price.
Tanzania is selling part of its maize stocks to the Middle East for the making of animal feeds as demand for livestock meals soar globally while Uganda is trading the commodity to DRC and South Sudan.
Uganda and Tanzania are key to supplementing Kenya’s stocks annually and the lack of sufficient maize in these nations will add more pressure on consumers locally.