Names of duty-free maize importers remain unknown as window opens


Trucks loaded with imported maize from Tanzania waiting to offload outside Mombasa Maize millers in Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Ministry of Agriculture has failed to gazette names of millers and traders who will be allowed to ship in maize as the window for duty-free imports opened on Tuesday.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Harsama Kellow said they have scrutinised applicants and that the process of issuing the letters is currently going on.

“We have scrutinised the names of those who have applied and we are still approving others and we shall be issuing the letters to those who have been approved soon,” said Mr Kellow.

Millers are now worried that the imports will be delayed because of the logistics involved in making imports, with the shipment taking at least 45 days to arrive in the country from the day when the order is placed.

The government had in December said it will allow millers and traders to ship in at least 10 million bags of maize to curb the deficit that has seen the cost of flour remain high.

The window was to open on Tuesday and the government had given an undertaking of gazetting the names before February 6.

“We are still in the darkness as far as imports are concerned, we made our application in December and we thought by now the authorisation permits will be out,” said Atin Agarwal, chief executive officer of Trident Millers.

He said the earliest the maize can get to the country is mid-March should the approval be made this week.

The government has not clarified if there will be an extension on the importation period, as the approved window is supposed to run up to August this year.

Millers said the unavailability of white maize in the world market may also slow the process of imports as there are limited stocks of conventional stocks globally.

“We cannot make any contracts now with the commodity dealers until the gazette notice is out,” said Rajan Shah, chief executive of Capwell Industries.

At least 250 traders had applied for import licenses to bring in maize under the duty-free window as of December.

The document seen by the Business Daily last month indicated that just 22 millers had made a formal requisition to the ministry to be allowed to ship in the commodity.

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