Kenya wants to limit Zambia, Tanzania, and Uganda from exporting maize to other countries at its expense in order to curb the surge in maize flour prices.
Nonetheless, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya says the country has initiated talks with the three countries to guarantee Kenya a share of the maize export to plug the shortfall in supplies.
Crop failure due to poor weather has triggered a rally in inflation to a 58-month high of 7.9 percent and forced families to skip meals and cut orders for other items like airtime and beer. On the other hand, a packet of maize flour at the beginning of this year was 120 but now it has gone up to 230.
Consequently, Kenya is seeking a solution from neighboring countries to boost supply ahead of the harvest season that starts in October.
“We are now talking to these countries to have them set aside some stocks of maize to be purchased by our traders to boost supply locally,” said Mr Munya.
Zambia has started harvesting its main crop while Tanzania and Uganda have surpluses that Kenya is seeking to tap. Additionally, Kenya traditionally receives imports from Uganda and Tanzania, but trade flows in the grain have shifted to other countries. Subsequently, a bulk of Ugandan maize is now heading to South Sudan, encouraged by higher prices in the country relative to Kenya where a 90-kilo bag is selling at Sh7,000 from Sh2,800 in January.
High cost of living
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the changes in the cost of living climbed to 7.9 percent from 7.1 percent in May.
However, countries in the region are competing for a limited white maize stock for both human consumption and the manufacturing of animal feeds. This is due to disruption in the supply of grain from Ukraine and Russia in the wake of the ongoing war between these two countries.
Mr Munya also said the government would intervene in logistical challenges faced by business people in shipping the product. This has seen the cost of transport more than double. Besides, a 90-kilo bag of maize is selling at around Sh3,000 in Zambia but it gets to Kenya at Sh6,000 because of the high cost of transport and other levies involved in the shipment.