Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri words that Kenya would need maize from mid-August to October, before the harvest, and next year between April and July, provoked emotions from farmers and political leaders who felt that cartels are using their power to sabotage maize farmers when there is more than enough maize grains in the country.
The maize importation business has been booming for Tanzania’s who despite having access to the Kenyan market still complained of delays in clearance of maize stock by the Kenyan authorities accusing them of laxity. A couple of weeks ago, truck drivers delivering maize from Tanzania were stranded Mombasa with their consignment as millers were reluctant to buy the grain.
President Magufuli intervened by informing Kenyans that they will not be selling maize grains to as earlier announced, but as flour, as ordered the military to buy maize from farmers for milling. The Kenyan government had opened a window to allow millers and traders to import 12.5 million bags to cover a shortfall. According to the Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga, the country could use 4.3 million bags of maize a month from which about 1.5 million bags are milled.
“We have grains in stock that are as old as one-and-a-half years. We shall allow Kenyans to choose the best, then process it at competitive rates and assist in transporting the flour,” said the permanent secretary in Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture Mathew Mtigumwe.
Although local miller will be affected by the decision of Tanzania to sell maize flour than the grains itself, the cartels who often dictate the price of the maize trade will be locked out, who have chosen to value add their commodity.