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Uhuru hints at extending duty-free maize imports


Part of the yellow maize consignment from Ukraine being offloaded at the port of Mombasa on June 12, 2017. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT

The government intends to extend the current duty waiver on imported yellow maize beyond August to address the high cost of dairy production, President Uhuru Kenyatta has indicated.

The announcement comes after an inter-ministerial committee on the food subsidy programme met last week and suggested that the duty-free importation of yellow maize should be extended by a year.

“All yellow maize will be imported duty-free to lower the cost of production,” Mr Kenyatta said on Monday while addressing farmers during the commissioning of a modern UHT production unit at the New KCC factory in Eldoret town.

The duty waiver was supposed to end August 31 but not enough maize has been imported as the first consignment has just landed in Mombasa.

The government moved to license new millers to import yellow maize after the first group of traders failed to bring in the cereal despite having been licensed.

The yellow maize permits were issued to three mainstream millers and about 17 animal feeds manufacturers.

READ: Ukranian yellow maize stuck at port

About six millers have imported 74,150 tonnes of yellow maize. However, animal feed manufacturers last week claimed there were delays in offloading. 

The Association of Kenya Feeds Manufacturers (Akefema) had raised complaints over the delays saying the move had pushed the price of feeds beyond the reach of many farmers.

Mombasa port officials confirmed yesterday that off-loading of the maize had started.

Animal feed manufacturers are operating at half capacity for lack of raw material to process. Millers have been banking on the yellow maize to process animal feeds following an acute shortage of white maize in the country.

The government ordered the importation of yellow maize in order to ease pressure on the white variety.

Animal feeds are made from white maize, which has worsened the food shortage in the country.