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Commodities

Millers doubt maize imports on cost, court case

maize flour
A two-packet maize flour costs an average Sh125. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Large-scale millers are weighing whether to import maize or not following uncertainties brought about by a court injunction and the relatively expensive Mexican maize.

Millers are worried the court case might drag and subject them to losses if the orders barring the release of imported maize are extended again, even as the import window is shrinking.

The High Court last week extended the orders it issued in April, restricting the release or consumption of the imported maize until the case before it is heard and determined.

“I do not think there will be more than four vessels coming because of the uncertainties brought about by the court case as well as the cost of imported maize, which has seen some members opt out,” said a largescale miller who did not want to be named because of the legal issues involved.

Millers are currently buying maize at Sh3,300 for a 90-kilo bag, up from Sh3,000 as supply tightens.

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The processors argue the ongoing trends of maize shortage and higher prices point to higher consumer price in the coming days.

Flour is retailing at Sh125 for a two-kilo packet.

Small-scale millers under the umbrella body of United Grain Millers have begun imports with three ships carrying close to 60,000 tonnes having left Mexico for Mombasa and expected to dock mid this month.

The court case was filed by activist Okiya Omtatah aimed at stopping millers from importing maize, citing quality concerns.

He sued Ministry of Agriculture but the Treasury and millers were enjoined as interested parties.

The injunction by the court means the grain that has left Mexico is likely to take longer once it docks in Mombasa.

It takes close to a week to discharge a consignment.

The Ministry of Agriculture had projected that the available stocks in the country would last up to the end of this month.

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