Kenya will next month waive duty to allow millers to import maize from Uganda and Tanzania.
Kenyan traders imported more than 77,500 tonnes of maize worth $31.2 million since January from its neighbours. This is the highest amount of imports in the past five years as drought and the effects of the fall armyworm manifest in the country’s staple.
Outgoing Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said that the government would, through the Foreign Affairs Ministry, formalise importation of maize.
“We are expecting the supply of maize to start declining. Importation will help to stabilise this. We are a maize-deficit country and hope to ease this pressure through importation from our neighbours.
“Currently, our traders are getting the produce from Uganda but have been unable to keep up with the demand,” Mr Bett said. East Africa maize data by country.
So far, Kenya, through the National Cereals and Produce Board, has spent more than $70 million to buy 2.1 million bags of maize (180,000 tonnes), as it sought to replenish the strategic grain reserve.
This maize is expected to last until the end of this month. The board is buying a 90kg bag at $32 and is expected to purchase a further 575,000 bags (51,750 tonnes) this month.
However, these imports seem to be insufficient as the country’s monthly consumption is 300,000 tonnes.
“We are seeking the produce from Uganda, as the country has maize available. However, we scaled down our daily production from a high of 11,000kg milled per day to under 3,000kg,” said Emmanuel Mwaro, a manager at Western Deluxe, a flour miller.
Data from the Regional Agricultural Trade Intelligence Network (Ratin) shows that since the start of this year, Kenya has imported more than 10,000 tonnes of maize from Tanzania through the Namanga and Isebania border points and a further 66,900 tonnes from Uganda through the Busia, Mutukula and Malaba points. Common Market Protocol Kenyan traders have taken advantage of the low prices in Uganda’s Tororo, Gulu, Masindi and Lira regions to ship in the produce, buying a tonne for as low as $180 per tonne.