A ship carrying 10,000 tonnes of imported maize will be docking at the port of Mombasa today, coming just days after the State said it will open the duty-free window for the produce.
The consignment is getting to the country even before an official gazette notice is released to legally allow imports. Manifest from the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) shows the consignment is onboard an African Merlin vessel.
Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria who made the announcement last week, yesterday said the gazette notice will be out this week.
Mr Kuria said traders will be allowed to import genetically modified maize and conventional grain.
KPA said the maize docking today is white but could not give the details of where it is coming from, who is importing it and whether it is genetically modified or not.
“We will check for you (the details) once the manifest is confirmed through customs tomorrow (today),” said KPA corporate communications office.
The previous duty-free import window that had been opened in June closed on November 1. However, millers and traders were unable to ship in the produce on the back of existing high international prices.
The government has said it will allow the importation of 10 million bags in the next six months to address the current shortage of the product, which has kept the price of flour at an all-time high.
Mr Kuria yesterday said the imports will be shipped in by the private sector.
“The gazette notice that we will release will open up the market to millers and anyone to import maize duty-free for six months. The government will not import any maize,” said Mr Kuria yesterday.
The calls for importation have not gone down well with members of parliament from the north rift who have argued that the timing is wrong.
The MPs have urged the government to drop the plans as farmers are currently harvesting the main crop for this season. Millers have welcomed the imports, saying they will play a key role in addressing the current high prices in the market.
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They have argued that they are getting little supplies from farmers despite the ongoing harvesting in Trans-Nzoia and Uasin Gishu Counties, regions regarded as the country’s bread baskets.
“We are hardly getting stocks from the farmers despite good prices in the market,” said Agarwal Atin, chief executive officer of Trident Millers Limited.