Enigma of rising food costs despite cheap imports

Although traders imported more rice during the duty-free window than Kenya typically ships in a year, they were unable to stop the country’s spiralling rice prices.

Recent statistics from Kenya’s National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) reveal that, despite an increase in availability, retail prices of rice have scarcely decreased, with the cost of a five kilogramme bag of the grain having nearly doubled since the year’s beginning.

Imports of less expensive sugar and cooking oil also failed to lower food prices, leading to worries that some supplies may have been stockpiled.

Struggling Kenyans feel the pinch as food prices soar
kenyan market

The first half of this year saw traders import 701,743 tonnes of less expensive rice in a rush to take advantage of the duty-free importation window offered by President William Ruto’s administration.

More rice than the nation imports in a year, primarily from Pakistan and India, with a value of Sh39.7 billion, suggests that the local market may be oversaturated with a grain that is produced in 23 counties.

Farmers of rice and sugar are preparing for fierce competition as recent data indicates higher shipment of the products in the first half of 2023.

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