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Kenya’s Maize Production Shortfall Sets The Stage For Imports

Kenya is headed for another year of maize imports, officials have warned as projections indicate a production shortfall from the long season’s harvests, Business Daily reports.

Agriculture ministry that projected a production shortfall of 10 million bags this season says the heavy rains may complicate matters for farmers as postharvest handling losses rise by up to 30 percent.

“The situation next year will be worse than what we have witnessed this season as white maize scarcity is expected to hit the market from as early as February. We might have to think of imports to be safe,” said Agriculture principal secretary Hamadi Boga.

“What we are going to do, in case scarcity forces us to international market, is to regulate the imports and ensure that only what is required is brought in to ensure that the window is not abused,” Prof Boga said.

The country is grappling with white maize shortage that has pushed up flour prices to Sh135 per two-kilogramme packet after the State ruled out imports to take care of the three months to harvests.

The ministry had warned in March that Kenya would run out of maize at the end of July. But its attempt to secure a duty-free import window to ship in grain from Mexico was met with a clash with the Strategic Food Reserve Fund (SFR).

While the SFR wanted the State to authorise importation of 2.5 million bags, the ministry insisted on 12.5 million bags.

Last week, Prof Boga said flour prices went up because of failure to import grains as the ministry had proposed.

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