Kenya MPs block push for duty-free maize imports

Wednesday July 17 2019

 

By Business Daily

Nairobi. The National Assembly has warned Agriculture Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri against his push for maize importation on grounds that Kenya has enough stocks in the granaries and at the National Cereals and Produce Board.

Members of the Agriculture committee led by chairman Adan Haji told the government there was no justification to import maize.

The ministry has pushed for duty- free maize importation to boost grains supply to millers and curb raising flour prices, which on average stood at KSh119 for 2kg packet last month from KSh86.47 in March.

Millers have linked the rising prices to reduced supply of maize amid talk of farmers hoarding the grains.

“We have done our due diligence, visited places and talked with the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund and concluded that there is no shortage of maize in this country,” Mr Haji said.

Farmers’ lobby fears maize glut

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“We know that the NCPB continue to keep large stocks of maize in its stores, traders too have maize that can take the country through this period,” Mr Haji added.

The committee reckons that NCPB currently has 2.1 million bags of maize in its stores, adding there is a Cabinet memo directing that 1.7 million bags to be released to the millers this month.

The memo is, however, awaiting approval.

The lawmakers said the 1.7 million will cater for July hence there is no need of importing maize.

The MPs said that farmers and traders are holding another 1.5 million bags, arguing the grains are adequate until September when new harvests will enter the market.

In another development, the Cereal Growers Association has blamed the government for sidelining farmers with its plans to import duty-free maize.

Addressing the press in Nairobi, the association said that the government has made the agricultural environment worse by its latest strategies.

CGA Chairman Furries Kulger said the plans by the government to import duty-free maize is untimely and will coincide with harvesting period.

 

"Declared maize importation coincides with the start of the maize harvesting season in the South Rift region, which accounts to 3 to 4 million bags of maize annually," Kulger said.

The association said that the government should consider supporting its farmers in order to ensure that the country is producing enough food to feed the country.

They also want the government to carry out a proper assessment in order to establish if the country does not have enough maize, adding that some farmers are still holding maize in their stores.

The farmers further said VAT introduction to fuel and pesticides has pushed the cost of production higher by 15 per cent. CGA said the policy is unfriendly to the farmer and should be immediately reversed.