KENYA – The Kenyan Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mithika Linturi has summoned over 20 local millers as the price of maize meal, the country’s staple gets sour, Citizen News has reported.
According to Linturi, the summon is intended to establish when millers who were granted the duty-free import licenses will be bringing their consignments to effect the proposed price of the staple.
The summon follows the recent announcement by President Wiliam Ruto that the cost of the staple would go down in a week’s time.
Speaking in a rally, President Ruto stated that imported maize would be expected to arrive in the country before the end of the week, which would result in a lowering of the price of unga for a 2kg packet from the current KES200 to KES 150.
However, after a spot check by Citizen TV, the news watchdog reports that only a few brands have slightly lowered their prices, particularly Ajab and Umi brands to below KES 170 but the rest still retail at between KES 200 to KES230.
In response, speaking during an interview with Citizen Television, Linturi said that the brands that have heeded the call to drop prices are the beneficiaries of import duty-free licenses.
He noted that it might be the brand’s consignment has started coming in hence the reason why the brands have had their products lowered the price.
The president was responding to the country’s cry on the cost of living that has seen the price of major food commodities rise high on the backside of shortage.
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
In addition, with the scrapping of the maize flour subsidy program last year, the price of maize flour doubled to about KES230 (US$1.85) for a 2kg packet which the government has been trying to combat through a raft of measures including duty-free maize and fertilizer subsidies for farmers.
However, Linturi stated that millers were given an import window up to August just about when local maize farmers reap their harvests, but he has summoned them to establish what is hindering imports.
“They might have problems in raising the money required to import the maize or raising certain instruments for foreign trading but I will know for certain on Friday,” he explained
With that, CS Linturi said that millers who have applied for the permits but won’t have bought the commodities by then, risk having their import licenses revoked.
“This is why I am calling the importers this Friday. I want to give them notice so that they can understand that if they are late in the delivery of commodities then it will not be good for them,” he said.