The Zambian government will ensure fast clearance for maize and sugar exports to Kenya in a raft of measures aimed at easing the current shortage
This was revealed on Tuesday after Zambia’s minister of agriculture and finance met with their Kenyan counterpart in a bilateral meeting at Kilimo House to discuss ease of trade.
Zambia’s minister for agriculture Dora Siliya acknowledged there have been delays within Zambia territory for clearance of goods destined to Kenya via Tanzania.
Zambia has a surplus of sugar and maize, commodities that are currently in short supply in Kenya, sparking a price rally.
“We have decided to commit an express lane for sugar and maize that is exported to Kenya in order to ease the movement of these produces,” said Ms Siliya.
She noted that Zambia has also reduced the duration that it takes for an exporter to get permit to ship maize out of Zambia from seven days to 24 hours.
The minister also noted that Zambia has abolished the 10 per cent duty that is required for businessmen from Zambia to export the produce.
“We have removed the mandatory requirement of the 10 per cent export duty that traders had to pay before they are allowed to ship the grain in order to ease trade between two states,” he said.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said Kenya will import 100,000 tonnes or 1.1 million bags of maize from the southern African state to ease the current shortage.
Kenya announced plans to import five million bags between May and August to ease a biting shortage that lifted the cost of a two-kilo packet of flour to Sh153 and the price of a 90kg bag to Sh4,500.
A Sh6 billion subsidy has since cut prices to Sh119, but staple is missing on shop shelves as imports have failed to keep pace with demand.
“We are happy with the bilateral talks that we have had with Zambia, this will ensure the stocks get to Kenya faster,” said Mr Bett.
Kenya is suffering an acute shortage of grain following bad harvest in last year’s crop resulting from erratic rains experienced during the planting season in 2016.
The country normally imports grain from Uganda and Tanzania to bridge the deficit.
Tanzania has restricted export of maize while Uganda did not have a good crop in the last season, with the little that is available finding its way to South Sudan where it fetches a good price.
Government is buying imported maize and selling it to millers at Sh2,300 for a 90-kilogramme bag in a programme to tame the cost of the staple.