Competition for white maize is looming between flour millers and animal feed manufacturers following the failure by the Cabinet to approve importation of yellow maize used for animal feed.
The delay, which has already seen the yellow maize selling window in the Black Sea region closed, means that millers would not be in a position to import the grain from Ukraine even if the authorisation was issued now.
The Ministry of Agriculture had prepared a Cabinet memo in July — creating optimism in millers that it would be approved — to pave the way for the importation of the grain in the wake of a biting shortage of white maize.
“The memo was not approved and the window along Black Sea has closed, however, we are still pushing to have it approved as we understand there are some consignments of yellow maize in Mexico,” said Joseph Karuri, chairperson of Association of Kenya animal Feed manufacturers.
Mr Karuri said they had taken up the matter with the PS Livestock and that they have been in discussion with him.
“We have taken this matter to the line government agency as we seek the way forward on the issue,” he said.
Millers are also pushing for importation of white sorghum from the US and they have already had discussions with America Grain council.
The manufacturers have for long urged government to allow duty free imports of yellow maize throughout the year to stop competition between humans and animals for white maize.
The yellow maize permits were issued to animal feeds manufacturers in 2017 following a similar shortage in the country.
Animal feed prices are currently at a three-year high, with manufacturers warning of further increase if there is no immediate intervention.
The retail price of a 70-kg bag of chick mash rose to Sh3,600 from Sh3,300 in January while growers marsh is retailing for Sh3,100 from Sh2,800. Standard dairy meal, which was selling at Sh2,200 in January, and is now up to Sh2,500.