State: Chiefs will help distribute cheap maize

Kenya National Cereals and Produce board employee offloads some of the maize consignment that arrived at the Donholm silos on 19 June 2017.Photo by Edward Kiplimo

Chiefs and other local administrators will be incorporated in the distribution of subsidised maize as the State widens the programme beyond large millers.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said yesterday only the involvement of the provincial administration would guarantee that maize reached most parts of the country.

The decision represents a change of tack after the subsidy programme that only allowed established millers access to cheap maize largely failed to achieve the intended results of alleviating famine.

“We want to involve the local leaders in getting the maize to the posho mills in villages,” Mr Bett said after receiving 690 metric tonnes of maize at the Strategic Grains Reserves branch in Nairobi’s Donholm suburb.

Involving chiefs in the distribution of cheap maize could tell of the frustration Government has faced in dealing with soaring food prices, exacerbated by hoarding by various players in the supply chain.

Consumers may have to get clearance from the chief’s office before they are allowed to buy maize at the local mill, which will serve as the distribution point.

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Such buyers could then have the maize milled to make flour or carry it away as grains.

In the weeks since the subsidy programme was started, it has become nearly impossible to find maize flour in retail outlets.

Shoppers have often violently scrambled for the flour when the now-rare food item has been in stock.

Challenges in getting the cheap flour to the consumer in the face of hoarding fears have informed a recent audit ordered by the Ministry of Agriculture to check whether millers had released all maize received through the subsidy programme.

Cheating audit

Bett did not disclose whether the audit had uncovered any cheating.

The consignment is the first to be delivered at the storage facility, being hauled by a train operated by Rift Valley Railways (RVR).

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Repairs on the century-old track and siding were made to enable RVR to deliver the consignment to the National Cereals and Produce Board stores – the first time since 1998.

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