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Maize Prices In Kenya Hit New High On Limited Supplies From Uganda, Tanzania

Maize flour at Chieni Supermarket in Nyeri town on May 3, 2023. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

Maize prices have hit a high of KSh6,100 (UShs165,295) for a 90-kilogramme bag on reduced supply, adding more pressure on flour and pain to the consumers who are already grappling with the high cost of living.

The price has jumped from KSh5,700 –the level at which it was selling for a similar quantity late last month.

Subsequently, millers have increased the factory price of flour with a bale selling at KSh2,370 on average from KSh2,180 last week in response to the rising cost of maize, which accounts for 80 percent of the total cost of production.

In the supermarkets, the prices that had eased to below Sh200 for a two-kilo packet in the last two weeks, have so far rallied to KSh208.

“The price of maize has shot up significantly and we have had to adjust the cost of flour as well,” said Atin Aggarwal, chief executive at Trident Millers Limited.

He said they are witnessing a tight supply of grain in the market with limited stocks coming in from Uganda and Tanzania.

Ken Nyaga, chairman of the United Grain Millers Association, said the tightening supply in the market would push the cost of a 90-kilo bag of maize to a high of Sh6,500 in the coming days.

“The price of maize is rising steeply. It is just a matter of days before a 90-kilo bag hits a high of Sh6,500,” said Mr Nyaga.

The skyrocketing cost of the flour comes at a time when the Ministry of Agriculture announced last week that the price of the staple was set to drop this week with expected imports of 150,000 tonnes of maize from overseas.

However, the port manifest indicates that there was no maize consignment in the ships that were expected to dock in Mombasa as of Sunday, May 14.

Last week, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi said the price of maize flour would drop to Sh140 for a two-kilo packet on the back of increased imports.

The government waived duty on maize coming outside the East African region starting February this year, but so far only 100,000 tonnes have been imported with millers citing scarcity in the global market.

The government is at a crossroads over bringing down the cost of flour with the import strategy appearing not to yield the desired results.

Last week, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi met with the small and medium-scale millers under the umbrella of the United Grain Millers Association to discuss ways that they can bring down the price of flour.

Mr Mudavadi urged the millers to come up with a memorandum to be presented to the government on how the high cost can be addressed.

-Business Daily

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