Traders worried maize ban lift conditions ‘impractical’

Friday March 12 2021
maize pic
By Zephania Ubwani

Arusha. Tanzania maize traders said some of the conditions put forward by Kenya before lifting the ban on the crop’s imports were not tenable.

Those interviewed yesterday cited the certificate of conformity on aflatoxin levels as being one of requirements which can be used to block them from the Kenyan market. “These conditions are tough and not likely to be easily tenable on our side,” said Mr Shadrack Julius, a trader at one of the maize markets at Mbauda.

He told The Citizen that a solution to the stand-off rests with the Kenyan regulatory authorities and the traditional maize importers in the neighbouring country.

The Kenyan ministry of Agriculture announced on Wednesday that it would lift a ban on maize imports from Tanzania and Uganda if the two countries adhered to certain requirements.

These include having the maize import consignments from the two states accompanied with certificate of conformity on Aflatoxin levels, among others.

But Mr Julius and other maize exporters interviewed said some of the requirements were not entirely new, hence causing concerns why they were being now raised.

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Two other requirements are that the maize importers in Kenya must be registered as are details of their warehouses where the consignments are to be stored.

The certificate of conformity with the Aflatoxin levels has to indicate that the levels of cancer-causing fungus must not be above 10 parts per billion.

The Kenyan authorities said they were imposing the restrictions on maize imports from the two countries in order to address the safety of consumers. But the Arusha-based traders who spoke to The Citizen said they were sceptical of the measures as they have been exporting maize to Kenya for years.

They said they were ready to conform with the Aflatoxin levels if they were provided with the moisture detection machines by the importers. “To create a fair play, both parties have to witness the levels of the mycotoxins. It should not be done by one side,” said another exporter, Exavery Temba.

He said the moisture content of the maize consignment was crucial because mycotoxins are associated with grains that still retain moisture after harvest.

Until yesterday, lorries loaded with maize were still stranded at the Namanga border town as they had not been allowed to proceed into Kenya with the cargo.

Maize traders, however, were optimistic that the lorries would be allowed to proceed since discussions were in progress between officials of the two governments.

Kenya’s ban on maize imports from Tanzania and Uganda ostensibly due to Aflatoxin contamination has been criticized within the East African Community (EAC) region.

Some observers in the region have described it as another stage of the trade wars between Kenya and its two trading partners--Tanzania and Uganda.

The Arusha-based East African Law Society (EALS) said on Wednesday that Tanzanian and Ugandan officials may have not been consulted before the ban was imposed.