KENYA – The Kenyan Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has given millers a one-week ultimatum to import maize or have their duty-free importation licenses revoked, Business Daily has reported.

Speaking while meeting the millers at his office, Linturi accused a section of millers of exporting consumable grain to neighboring countries for more profit at the expense of Kenyan Citizens

On April 30, those people that will not have given us proof that there is something we are waiting for will have their licenses declared not valid,” he said

He revealed that some millers are importing duty-free maize and rice and then exporting to South Sudan and Tanzania as the country languishes in shortage.

The ultimatum comes after the CS summoned millers to establish why they are yet to lower maize meal prices after receiving import licenses.

Linturi further hinted that some millers have sold their licenses to third parties saying that the government will revoke such licenses when they get proof.

According to Linturi, the action by the millers has frustrated and delayed the importation of cheap maize that was meant to reduce the retail price of maize flour.

The permits to import the duty-free maize are set to expire in August.  Linturi, however, reiterated that the duty waiver licenses will not extend beyond August 2023 as it will conflict with the country’s harvest season disadvantaging local farmers.

The maize meal price has been an issue in the country following an acute maize shortage due to low production. 

Recently, President Ruto stated that imported maize would be expected to arrive in the country before the end of April, which would result in a lowering of the price of unga for a 2kg packet from the current KES200 to KES 150.

However, millers raised logistical issues like a lack of adequate funds to complete the payments to suppliers.

They blamed the government for remaining non-committal on the more than Ksh.3 billion it owes them through the maize subsidy program during former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s regime.

However, the government said they have initiated maize importation talks with Mozambique and are also in talks with financial institutions to support importers shipping in the sought-after grain.

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