Millers to import 1.5m bags of wheat


Wheat flour on the shelves at a supermarket in Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

Millers will be shipping in at least 1.5 million 90-kilo bags of wheat in the next 10 days as they rush to replenish the diminishing stocks amid poor crops locally from the current season.

According to the Port of Mombasa, four ships carrying bulk wheat will be docking at the harbor by Sunday next week. They will be among the 35 vessels that are expected to dock at the port between 13 and 25 June with different cargo.

Kenya is grappling with a shortage of wheat following disruption at the source markets of Ukraine and Russia in the wake of the conflict between these two countries which has cut the supply of the grain.

“Local wheat production for the current season was lower at 1.2 million 90 kg bags compared to 1.8 million last season,” says Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA).

AFA attributed the drop in production to drought, quelea bird infestation, and the high cost of inputs during the crop season. The total wheat purchase for the current season by millers participating in the wheat purchase program was about 1.2 million bags against a projection of 1.7 million.

The shortage of grain in the local market has seen the price of wheat flour steadily rise to now hit Sh212 for a two kilogramme packet up from Sh200 last month.

Total wheat imports for the current season stood at 1.5 million tonnes by April 2022 against a total allocation of 2.7 million tonnes that millers were permitted to ship in.

While in the previous season, 1.7 million tonnes were imported against a given quota of 2.9 million tonnes, implying that the Treasury has been allocating imports in excess of requirements.

Millers say that the stocks that will be landing next week are the last batch of imports coming in at a relatively cheaper price as the contract had been procured earlier, with new orders expected to reflect the current expensive price.

The price of wheat jumped 28 percent between April and May after India announced banning the export of produce in order to protect its local stocks.

India is the world’s second-biggest wheat producer after China and had filled a gap in markets left by decreased output from Ukraine.

Wheat is the second most-consumed cereal in Kenya after maize.

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