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Millers see costly flour on import freeze

Millers say they will not be importing maize
Millers say they will not be importing maize and warn Kenyans should brace for higher prices of flour in the coming days on the account of expensive raw material. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Millers say they will not be importing maize and warn Kenyans should brace for higher prices of flour in the coming days on the account of expensive raw material.

The Treasury had granted millers permission to import maize at a lower tariff but declined to extend the duration as requested by millers.

The Ministry of Agriculture objected to an extension on fears the imports would coincide with the harvesting of short-rain crop from south rift, impacting negatively on local prices.

"We can confirm that no maize will come in…this will give the farmers a good opportunity to hold their maize and demand whatever price they deem fit," said Cereal Millers Association.

"Supply of maize in the market has started tightening and we expect the prices of flour to start going up very soon."

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United Grain Millers (UGM) echoed the sentiments, saying consumers should expect hard times going forward.

"The price of maize had eased a bit but it has now started going up because of the short supply," said Ken Nyagah, UGM chairman.

Millers had been given permission to import two million bags of white maize at 14 per cent duty and an additional two million bags of yellow maize for animal feeds at 10 per cent tax.

The current stocks are projected to be exhausted at the end of this month meaning there could be at least a month when Kenya will not have supplies of maize as the next crop will start coming to the market in July.

Maize prices had eased 10 percent in the last week after news that the government would allow imports, forcing farmers and traders who had been hoarding the produce to release the stocks to the market

The move saw a 90-kilo bag of maize drop from Sh3,500 to Sh3,000 as supply improved

The price of maize flour has already started going up with a two kilo packet shooting to Sh136 in some retail outlets, up from Sh128 previously.

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