Millers have refuted government’s claims that there are 21 million bags of maize in the country amid a biting shortage that has seen price of flour hit Sh119 for a two- kilogramme packet.
This came days after Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri made the announcement last week.
The processors said they had increased the price of maize by over Sh1,000 above what the government is paying farmers but still could not get stocks from producers.
“We highly doubt that there are 21 million bags of maize in the country right now. If that were the case, then we would be having this maize coming to millers because of the competitive price we are offering,” said millers off the record for fear of reprisals.
The millers, both large scale and small scale, now want a crisis meeting to be held with the government to come up with the solution on rising cost of the staple.
“We want an urgent meeting so that we can reach a consensus on the way forward in dealing with the current situation,” said Peter Kuguru, chairman United Grain Millers Association.
The millers also want the government to release stocks of clean maize from the Strategic Food Reserve to ease the shortage and cool escalating prices.
National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) is buying maize at Sh2,300 for a 90-kilogramme bag but has so far only bought 420,000 bags out of the targeted two million.
Of the reported 21 million bags of maize available in the country, it was estimated that stocks held at household level are 13 million bags, representing 61 percent of the total produce.
Traders have three million bags while millers are in possession of 680,588 bags, which is just three percent of the available stocks.
In a bid to boost supply the government recently lifted the cap on number of bags that farmers are allowed to supply to NCPB from 400 bags.
“To encourage farmers still holding surplus maize stocks in their stores, I have directed NCPB to accept maize deliveries from vetted farmers with more than the limit of 400 bags that had earlier been set,” said Mr Kiunjuri.