The Government will this week decide on maize imports, with the available stocks expected to be depleted by the end of next month, causing jitters among stakeholders.
The Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Andrew Tuimur says agencies will deliberate on the number of bags to be imported and the time of shipping to avoid last-minute rush.
Millers and a policy think-tank have warned it takes at least 45 days for grain to be shipped into the country and that delaying the decision would affect the whole process.
“We are making a decision this week on imports. We want to get it right this time around in terms of the number of bags that are required,” said Dr Tuimur.
Timothy Njagi, a research fellow at Egerton University’s Tegemeo Institute of Agriculture says the Government should move with speed to allow imports because of the lag time between making orders and arrival.
“There is a lag time of about two months and this means that if the process starts late, the grain will not serve its intended need,” said Dr Njagi.
Eastern Africa Grain Council executive director Gerald Masila warned last week that the import process should start immediately given that the grain in the region won’t be enough to last beyond July.
“Even with the stocks available, imports are inevitable and the process of shipping in the grain has to start on time to avoid last-minute rush,” he said.
Like in 2017, Kenya is expected to import maize from Mexico, which is the closest country with white non-GMO maize.
The Government in April said there were about 12 million bags of maize in the country that was expected to be depleted by June.
Kenya consumes about four million bags of maize every month, a jump from the previous three million bags.
The country, which is a member of the East African Community customs union, has to negotiate with other states in order to get approval for the removal of Common External Tariff of 50 per cent charged on imports coming in from outside the region.