Traders have failed to secure maize imports from the overseas market on the back of high international prices that have made it difficult to ship in the produce at the government-restricted price of Sh4,200 for a 90-kilogramme bag.
A tonne of maize at the international market has topped $420 (Sh54,978) a tonne, translating to Sh6,000 for a 90-kilo bag when it lands in the country, putting traders at a crossroads over importation given that they had signed an agreement with the government for produce to land in the country at Sh4,200.
Last week, a ship from Ukraine carrying maize docked at the Port of Mombasa, however, it was established the consignment was of yellow produce and not white.
The Sh6,000 a bag is the same price that the maize is selling at in the country, meaning that the imports, which were to aid in lowering the current high cost of flour, will have no impact.
“There is no cheap maize all over the world right now from the scouting that we have done as millers,” Cereal Millers Association told Parliament last week.
The government had entered into a memorandum of understanding with the traders last month to have them commit to import a 90-kilo bag of the produce at Sh4,200 before they would be issued with import permits.
However, millers opted out of imports citing that it would be difficult to get maize at that price, given the shortage of non-Genetically Modified maize and a weakening shilling.
“There is no cheap maize right now at the world market, even if some traders will import, it won’t be much,” said Rajan Shah, chief executive officer of Capwell Industries.