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More questions than answers on duty-free milk powder imports

A New KCC factory worker packs powder milk into tins at the Kiganjo plant in Nyeri. The company, alongside Brookside Dairy, and Kiambu-based Githunguri Dairy, are the largest processors in Kenya. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG
A New KCC factory worker packs powder milk into tins at the Kiganjo plant in Nyeri. The company, alongside Brookside Dairy, and Kiambu-based Githunguri Dairy, are the largest processors in Kenya. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG 

Even before the storm created by duty free maize imports has settled, more dust is blowing over milk powder brought into the country to reportedly cut the price of a 500ml packet by Sh10.

Details remain sketchy on how much of the 9,000 tonnes the government allowed in duty free in mid May has landed, at what cost and who shared what proportion among milk processors. It also remains unclear whether any milk has landed in the first place.

A consumer lobby is wondering what the powder is supposed to achieve, given that the country has gone past the dry spell, with supplies to processors almost normalising. Cofec says the timing is suspect.

There is even a bigger concern that milk processors have been given a free hand to import the subsidised milk powder and choose the margins they will reduce consumer prices by, hence minting millions of shillings from tax payers in another essential food subsidy programme by the government.