KENYA – Agriculture PS Kello Harsama has assured Kenyans that prices of unga are likely to start dropping this week to about KES175 per two-kilo packet of maize flour following maize influx from the neighboring country and the ongoing harvesting season.
In addition, with only two months left to the maize harvesting season, food prices in North Rift, the country’s grain basket, have started dropping.
“Maize prices are slowly decreasing from Sh6,000 per 90kg bag last week to about Sh5,000 this week. This decrease will soon be reflected in unga prices on the shelves,” Harsama said.
Harsama said millers will start milling maize from local farmers in the next month as the country is expecting a bumper harvest of about 44 million bags of maize.
“This is sufficient to feed our country and to reduce any kind of imports,” he added.
The good news gives hope to consumers who are currently struggling to afford a packet of maize meal, the country’s staple, as prices had hit a record high of KES230 for a 2kg pack.
Earlier, a report by the Food and Nutrition Security by the Ministry of Agriculture instilled fear among millers after pointing out that despite the government granting importers four months to bring in maize from outside COMESA and EAC duty-free, the move was not bearing fruit in stabilizing flour prizes.
According to the ministry, the government gazetted importation of more than 1.4 million metric tons of maize but they were only able to get less than 500 metric tons of maize due to scarcity.
“So we had a challenge of acquiring maize from those countries. There was also the problem of the dollar which had skyrocketed and many of our traders had problems because the dollar transaction was not favorable for them. That is why we had little supply of maize,” Harsama said.
But the PS assured that the country will be expecting sufficient harvest for the long rainy season adding that the Ministry of Agriculture is working to ensure a reduction of post-harvest losses due to dump weather and poor storage.
MPs to debate report on controversial maize flour subsidy
Meanwhile, MPs are today set to debate a report by a Departmental Committee on Agriculture, tabled in the House on June 7, on the inquiry into bungled maize flour subsidy.
The motion will be moved by Tigania West John Mutunga who chairs the Committee to look into Uhuru’s 2022 maize flour subsidy programme that flopped.
“That, this House adopts the report of the Departmental Committee on Agriculture and Livestock on its inquiry into maize flour subsidy Programme for the Financial Year 2022/23, laid on the table of the House on June 7, 2023,” the order paper reads.
Under the program, Kenyans were to purchase a 2kg packet of sifted maize flour at KES100 instead of KES210 to make the commodity affordable to most Kenyans.
However, the cereal miller’s association (CMA) demanded up to KES2.5 billion from the Ministry of Agriculture as a balance of what the government owed them from distributing 121,714,844kg of flour by the subsidy program was ending.
The Committee was, therefore, forced to probe the matter after it emerged that payment of the balance had hit various roadblocks with legislatures.
The report stated that Mutunga says the program may not have achieved its intended objective of supplying sifted white maize flour in all parts of the country at KES100.
It added that the maize flour under the program was not stamped “subsidy.”
Now, the cereal miller’s Association (CMA) is crossing its fingers for the way forward from the sitting.