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Economy

MPs block Kiunjuri push for duty-free maize imports

Mwangi Kiunjuri
Agriculture Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The National Assembly has warned Agriculture Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri against his push for maize importation on grounds that Kenya has enough stocks in the granaries and at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).

Members of the Agriculture committee led by chairman Adan Haji told the government there was no justification to import maize.

The ministry has pushed for duty- free maize importation to boost grains supply to millers and curb raising flour prices, which on average stood at Sh119 for 2kg packet last month from Sh86.47 in March.

Millers have linked the rising prices to reduced supply of maize amid talk of farmers hoarding the grains.

“We have done our due diligence, visited places and talked with the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund and concluded that there is no shortage of maize in this country,” Mr Haji said.

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“We know that the NCPB continue to keep large stocks of maize in its stores, traders too have maize that can take the country through this period,” Mr Haji added.

The committee reckons that NCPB currently has 2.1 million bags of maize in its stores, adding there is a Cabinet memo directing that 1.7 million bags to be released to the millers this month.

The memo is, however, awaiting approval.

The lawmakers said the 1.7 million will cater for July hence there is no need of importing maize.

The MPs said that farmers and traders are holding another 1.5 million bags, arguing the grains are adequate until September when new harvests will enter the market.

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