KENYA –Kenyan consumers might soon dig deeper into their pockets to afford a packet of maize meal as maize prices hit a historic high of KES 6,100 (US$44.44) for a 90-kilogram bag amid import claims, Business Daily has reported.

The price jumped from KES 5,700 (US$41.53) late last month on reduced supply, adding more pressure on flour and pain to the consumers who are already grappling with the high cost of living.

According to the report, millers have also increased the factory price of flour with a bale selling at KES 2,370 on average from KES 2,180 last week in response to the rising cost of maize, which accounts for 80 percent of the total cost of production.

The price dilemma comes at a time when consumers had hopes that the staple’s price would go down following the Ministry of Agriculture’s announcement last week that the price of the staple was set to drop this week with expected imports of 150,000 tonnes of maize from overseas.

Atin Aggarwal, chief executive at Trident Millers Limited confirmed that the price of maize has shot up significantly forcing millers to adjust the cost of flour as well.

On his part, Ken Nyaga, chairman of the United Grain Millers Association, said the tightening supply in the market would push the cost of a 90-kilo bag of maize to a high of KES 6,500 in the coming days.

According to millers, they are witnessing a tight supply of grain in the market with limited stocks coming in from Uganda and Tanzania.

Worse still, the port manifest indicates that there was no maize consignment in the ships that were expected to dock in Mombasa as of Sunday, May 14.

The situation has placed the government at a crossroads over bringing down the cost of flour with the import strategy appearing not to yield the desired results.

In the supermarkets, the prices that had eased to below KES 200 for a two-kilo packet in the last two weeks, have so far rallied to KES 208.

According to millers, now the ball remains with the government to devise possible solutions regarding retail prices for the important commodity.

Last week, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi said the price of maize flour would drop to KES 140 for a two-kilo packet on the back of increased imports, however, sources say that only 100,000 tonnes have been imported so far, with millers citing scarcity in the global market.

This prompted the Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi to meet with the small and medium-scale millers under the umbrella of the United Grain Millers Association to discuss ways that they can bring down the price of flour.

Mr. Mudavadi urged the millers to come up with a memorandum to be presented to the government on how the high cost can be addressed.

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