KENYA – 42,464 tonnes of the long-awaited duty-free maize are expected to dock the port on March 12 signaling relief to Kenyan millers who have been struggling to access the commodity, Business daily has reported.
The shipment from the Port of Odesa in Ukraine will mark the first consignment to have arrived in the country since the authorization of duty-free imports in November last year.
Kenya has been experiencing an acute maize shortage due to drought coupled with a high cost of fertilizers that raised the cost of production prompting farmers to raise the price of their produce.
The result has been historically high maize prices which the government is trying to combat through a raft of measures including duty-free maize and fertilizer subsidies for farmers.
Grain shortage has also impacted millers heavily forcing some to close operations as they wait for the prices to go down and supply to stabilize.
Speaking during the annual millers’ conference in Nairobi, the Grain Millers Association Chairman Ken Nyaga revealed that about ten small-scale millers have completely shut their operations.
Nyaga blamed the predicament on the ongoing acute shortage of maize coupled with non-payment of maize delivered under the subsidy program.
He said that the lack of financial muscle to buy the grain which has led to a shortage crippling operation of its 200 members.
In addition, Nyaga has lamented that most millers were operating on bank facilities, some have been auctioned, some have shut down, while others slowed on operations because they can no longer access the commodity.
The association is therefore calling on the government to come through for the sake of both the millers and prices for the consumers.
Their calls come at a time when the government is exploring various solutions to the maize shortage problem in Kenya.
Earlier this Month, the government entered into a deal with Zambia, to allow Kenyan farmers to conduct large-scale maize farming and export their products back home.
Further, the government has also opened up the multi-billion-dollar irrigation scheme, Galana Kulalu, to private investors to spur growth in local food production.