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Kenya Risks Food Shortage As New Regional Buyers Emerge

Kenya is staring at another round of food shortage next year as regional countries find an alternative lucrative market for their maize.

Tanzania is selling part of its maize stocks to the Middle East for making animal feeds as demand for livestock meals soar globally while Uganda is trading the commodity to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

This comes in the wake of a projected decline in production in this year’s main crop being harvested currently, which has already seen the cost of a 90-kilogramme bag shoot to Sh5,000 from Sh4,500 in October.

Uganda and Tanzania are key in boosting Kenya’s stocks and a lack of sufficient maize in these nations will pile more pressure on consumers.

“Traditional sources of imports for Kenya, which are Uganda and Tanzania have found alternative markets in DRC, South Sudan and Arab countries, which are paying premium prices because of the global maize shortage,” said Gerald Masila, executive director at Eastern African Grain Council. “So now we’ve to compete with them. This is a red flag for us as we depend on the region to bridge the deficit.”

Masila said the current estimations indicate that Kenya could only be able to get 60 percent of the normal harvest at about 33 million bags in the ongoing harvest, which will tighten supply at the market.

In Trans-Nzoia County, some farmers have been selling both green and dry maize to South Sudan due to prevailing good prices.

“We are aware that some farmers have been selling not only dry but also green maize to South Sudan. As a county we are trying to find out how much has so far been sold to this country,” said Mary Nzomo, outgoing chief executive committee member for Agriculture in Trans-Nzoia.

The high prices come at a time Kenya’s breadbasket of North Rift is harvesting this year’s main crop, with millers warning the cost of flour will rise to Sh230 for a two-kilo packet if the current buying prices persist.

Source: Business Daily

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