The difference in standards and low capacity will hinder Tanzania’s quest to export maize flour to Kenya, Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga has said.
Kenyan flour is fortified, which is a requirement by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs), while most of the Tanzanian commodity is not, making access to the local market difficult.
On capacity, Prof Boga said Tanzania’s largest miller has a capacity of 100 metric tonnes a day compared to Kenya’s total daily capacity of 16,000 tonnes
“These factors of standards and low output makes the plans of importing flour from Tanzania unviable,” he told the Daily Nation in an interview.
“Maize flour from outside the country must be attuned to the consumer preferences in Kenya.”
Tanzania President John Magufuli last month said his country would only export flour, not maize grain to Kenya as earlier announced.
Maize trade was part of bilateral deals agreed upon during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to Tanzania.
The move might come as a relief to millers who had opposed the plan by Tanzania to export maize flour to ease the current shortage, arguing that it would destabilise the market and subject them to losses.
The processors argued they buy maize at Sh4,000 for a 90-kilo bag and bringing in flour from Tanzania would render theirs uncompetitive.
Agriculture Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri’s announcement in April that the maize gap needed to be bridged through imports was greeted with murmurs, with MPs, the national Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga claiming there was enough food in the country and that importation was choreographed by “cartels.”
“We cannot bring in maize from Mexico. We are going to scout the grain from Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa countries,” Mr Kiunjuri told MPs last week in an abrupt change of stance last month.
In March, the ministry said there were 21 million bags of maize in the country forecast to last until the end of June with deficit having to be filled through imports. However, political pressure has seen government backtrack from importing outside the region.
The inflow of maize from Tanzania and Uganda has helped to stabilise the price of flour now maintained at Sh123 for a two-kilogramme packet in the last two months.