Dar es Salaam. The Tanzania government has expressed its willingness to provide logistics assistance to private businesspersons who are ready to export maize to Kenya, should the neighbouring country allow importation.
Tanzania declared recently that it has surplus maize and that it has the capacity of exporting more than one million bags to Kenya. However, the two countries have yet to strike any deal.
Reports from Kenya have it that consumers were bracing for an increase of maize flour price in the next few weeks as shortage of grains prevails due to delay by the Cabinet to approve importation.
Speaking in Mombasa during the launch of Agricultural Transformation and Support Food Security Strategy, Agriculture Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri warned that the price of a two-kilogramme packet of maize flour currently retailed at Ksh120, could increase to more than Ksh150 in the next one month if right measures are not taken.
Tanzania’s Agriculture minister, Mr Japhet Hasunga, told The Citizen that the government was ready to assist Tanzanian businessmen who want venture into the exportation of maize to Kenya.
“The government will not directly engage in the maize business, instead, it will provide assistance to all private exporters after purchasing it from the national storage facility,” he said.
Speaking last week immediately after Kenya had declared the shortage, Mr Hasunga said the private players would be assisted in getting permits provided that they follow procedures, which include paying all fees and levies.
He said as of last week, only one company had applied for exportation of one million tonnes of the merchandise and that it had been directed to purchase maize from farmers.
However, reports from Kenya say maize importation was being discussed at the Cabinet level, making it difficult for millers and traders to import the commodity.
“We understand there is a big shortage of more than 19 million bags that need to be imported, but we are yet to pass the motion to authorise the importation,” said Mr Kiunjuri.
“More than 12 million bags will be imported once the approval is made for human consumption while six million bags to cushion dairy farmers.”
Any importation before the Cabinet approval is illegal, he warned. “The shortage we are experiencing at the moment is attributed to short rains we received this year, ,” said Mr Kiunjuri.