State demands an audit on maize millers as shortage bites


Millers have been asked to account for the affordable maize given to them, amid concerns that the unga subsidy programme had failed to offer the intended relief to poor households.

Hundreds of millers were yesterday ordered to immediately provide returns to the Ministry of Agriculture including the distributors that they supplied to.

It is expected that the audit would help in establishing whether the millers were hoarding the maize with most regions around the country yet to receive the subsidised maize flour.

“Ensure the following information is captured; maize allocated, quantity issued to-date, volumes of flour milled and names of the distribution outlets,” Joseph Ngetich wrote in his memo to millers, on behalf of his Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe.

Mr Ngetich warned that no more maize allocation would be provided to the millers in the event that they do not submit the required information at the “earliest” opportunity.

His memo came amid frustration within Government circles that millers and traders were using the maize subsidy programme to enrich themselves by hoarding and creating an artificial shortage of flour.

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The public has complained that the subsidy programme had only helped complicate an already dire situation, where the recommended retail price of Sh90 for a two-kilo packet was affordable to many but the commodity was missing on the shelves.

It is this fear that has informed the audit on millers who have been granted maize at a subsidised price of Sh2,300 per 90-kilo bag.

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich told The Standard that the subsidy programme was being undermined by panic-buying among consumers, who exacerbated the shortage.

“People who used to buy one packet are now picking whole bales and that only fuels the shortage,” Mr Rotich said in responding to whether the programme had worked as intended.

Peter Kuguru, who owns one of the smaller milling firms termed the requirement to furnish the ministry with information on maize meal production as a case of witch-hunt.

Kuguru said bigger millers should be the ones audited.

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