No end in sight to maize flour shortage

Kenyans should brace for a continued shortage of subsidised maize flour following revelations that only 12,000 tonnes of subsidised grain imported by millers are in the stores.

This is equivalent to 120,000 90kg bags, which is just about what the country consumes in a day.

The Grain Bulk Handlers (GBHL) said millers had imported 71,900 tonnes of the maize and they had already collected 59,900 tonnes.

The revelations come amid fears that some millers may be hoarding the maize until the importation window is closed so that they can make a killing.

The shortage of subsidised flour has become a major campaign issue, with President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday summoning senior Agriculture Ministry officials to explain why the flour, selling at Sh90 for two kilos, was not available in retail outlets in many parts of the country.

YELLOW MAIZE

On Monday, GBHL offloaded some 64,000 tonnes of yellow maize for making animal feeds.

Contrary to reports of congestion at the port leading to delays in discharging the maize, GBHL Operations Manager Michael Mwakamba said the offloading was done promptly.

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“The delay was for less than 14 hours due to bad weather,” Mr Mwakamba told the Nation and NTV crew, which visited the port to witness the discharge of the maize.

“The discharge could end by June 16. There’s no maize vessel waiting to discharge. We are giving priority to the  discharge of maize to ensure Kenyans are well fed. Within a week we have been able to clear five vessels carrying food,” said Mr Mwakamba.

He added that millers had also imported 86,000 tonnes of wheat.

WHITE MAIZE

“Some millers delay to collect the maize  as they are the same importers of  wheat, which they might want to mill first,” he noted.

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Mr Mwakamba said another vessel carrying about 40,000 tonnes of white maize is expected at the port between June 20 and June 25.

Reports indicate that the National Cereals and Produce Board is currently holding only 750,000 bags of maize in the strategic food reserve.

Millers have been in the spotlight following claims that they have been hoarding  subsidised maize, leading to the acute shortage of flour.

However, some retailers are also reluctant to stock the flour because they are not making any profit from selling it.

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