Millers yet to get State direction on importation of duty-free maize


Capwell Industries CEO, Rajan Shah says there should be clarity on the importation of duty-free maize as it will allow millers to plan adequately on the logistics that involve the imports. FILE PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG

The government is yet to issue clarity on maize imports with less than a month to the opening of the duty-free window, which will delay the much-anticipated decline in the price of flour with an increase in the supply of the grain in the market.

Millers have already applied for permits to import the grain outside of the region but they are yet to hear from the government.

The processors argue that the government is yet to tell them what each miller would be required to import and whether Genetically Modified maize will be allowed alongside the conventional one.

Millers also want to know the volumes that each will be allocated to bring in and the criteria that will be used in the allocation of the quota.

According to processors, it takes at least 45 days for a ship to dock at the Port of Mombasa after they make their orders and the current delays in issuing clarity mean that the earliest the maize can get to the country is in March.

The Agriculture Ministry said last week that the prices of flour are expected to drop at the end of February with the arrival of imports.

“We cannot make any orders now without clarity on the type of maize that we should import and the quantities that each miller should be allowed to ship in the country,” said Aggarwal Atin, CEO of Trident Millers.

The government last month allowed millers and traders to import 10 million bags of maize duty-free to ease the current shortage in the country that has seen the price of maize flour remain high with a two-kilo retailing at Sh200 for two-kilo packets.

The gazette notice authorising the imports did not give any specifications on what should be imported leaving millers at a crossroads.

At least more than five large-scale millers have applied for permits to be allowed to ship in maize and they are waiting for clearance and direction from the government.

“We have placed our requisition for imports and we are waiting for a response from the government,” said Rajan Shah, chief executive officer Capwell Industries.

Mr Shah said the clarity will play an important role as it will allow millers to plan adequately on the logistics that involve the imports.

Millers say there is limited white maize in the world market currently as most stocks that are available globally are GMO.

The government has lifted the ban on the growing and importation of GM products, however, in the gazette notice, the Ministry of Agriculture did not specify whether millers and traders will be allowed to ship in the biotech maize.

The Kenyan Peasants League -a lobby group representing peasant farmers moved to court in November and successfully challenged the decision to import GMO maize.

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