Tension has been imminent in the cereals sector as 10 million bags of imported duty-free maize are anticipated to hit the market next week.
As farmers are still holding stocks from last season, they are still not sure of how the imported maize will affect them.
However, the Agriculture Ministry yesterday maintained that the 900,000 tonnes or 10 million bags of maize will be released to the market as scheduled to check the shortage of the staple to the relief of consumers who have been scuffling with the high cost of maize flour.
According to Mr Kello Harsama, the principal secretary in the State Department for Crop Development, the licensed traders are urged to bring in the maize to enable the country to have sufficient stocks and contain shortages caused by declined yield due to drought.
“The release of duty-free maize will go on as planned to fill the deficit of the produce in the market,” said Mr Harsama on phone.
Nonetheless, the Ministry of Agriculture has permitted traders to import 900,000 tonnes of duty-free white maize and 600,000 tonnes of duty-free milled maize from next month (February) to August this year.
“(This will) enable the country to have adequate stocks to last until the next harvest from July to August 2023. The duty waiver shall apply to white maize and milled rice imported into the country by August 6, 2023, by millers and traders,” said the State Department for Crop Development in a notice.
Consequently, President William Ruto had earlier asked maize farmers to sell the produce at the current price of above Sh5,000 per 90-kilogramme bag ahead of the import of duty-free maize and rice from February.
On the contrary, Mr Harsama on Friday 28th January 2023 had asked licensed traders to bring in the maize to ease the shortage of the staple as more than 3.5 million Kenyans face starvation due to acute food shortage.