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Maize Prices Ease As Farmers Release Stock Ahead Of February Imports Window

Maize prices have eased as farmers and traders release more stocks to the market ahead of the opening of the importation window on February 6, coming as a major relief for consumers.

A 90-kilogramme bag of maize is now selling for Sh4,800 at the farm gate down from Sh5,000 last month with millers reporting an increase in availability at the market.

At the factory gate, the processors are paying Sh5,000 down from Sh5,300 in December as sellers release more stocks to the market.

“The prices have moved down in the last couple of weeks and we are paying Sh5,000 when delivered to us at the gate and Sh4,800 when we buy directly from the farms,” said Atin Aggarwal, chief executive at Trident Millers.

The falling prices have also seen the cost of flour at the factory decline from Sh2,080 a bale in December to Sh1,950 currently, coming as a boost to consumers who have been grappling with the high cost of flour.

The government last month said it has opened a window for the importation of 10 million bags of maize to curb the shortage that has seen the cost of flour remain high in the market on the back of the high cost of the grain.

The State will allow traders to ship in the commodity from outside the regional market duty-free between next February and August just two months before the onset of the main harvest in October.

However, millers say it might be hard to find sufficient stocks in the world market as there isn’t enough white maize globally as most of the produce in the would-be source market is genetically modified.

Biotech maize

The government has lifted the ban on the growing and importation of genetically modified (GMO) products, however, in the gazette notice, the Ministry of Agriculture did not specify whether millers and traders will be allowed to ship in the biotech maize.

Agriculture Cabinet secretary Mithika Linturi, in an interview, said the millers had been allowed to import maize but declined to clarify whether GMOs can also be included in the shipment.

“The notice was very clear that millers and traders have been allowed to import maize,” said Mr Linturi.

Millers had raised concerns that the notice was ambiguous and did not specify whether the importation should include GMO maize.

Source: Business Daily Africa

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