Kenyan maize millers have expressed concern over a new directive by neighbouring Tanzania banning the purchase of produce directly from farms by foreigners.
This, they said, will affect their supply, with Tanzania being a key supplier of the grain. In a statement published by its Ministry of Agriculture on May 23, the Tanzania government now requires buyers from outside the country to source produce through registered traders who bear a tax identification number, certificate of tax compliance and an export licence.
A section of millers in Kenya have expressed grave misgivings as to what this directive means for the country.
The Agro-processors Association of Kenya says the move by Tanzania comes at an inopportune time when Kenya is grappling with shortage of essential supplies, which has necessitated a duty-free import window by the government.
“The biggest impact [of the directive] is that maize prices will go up in Tanzania as well as here in Kenya. The prices in Unga will continue going up”, said Mr Anthony Wambugu, the association’s chairman.
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u gazetted the duty-free importation of 900,000 metric tonnes of maize and 600,000 metric tonnes of rice for the period between February 1 and August 6. On April 25, however, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi read the riot act to millers over what he termed as failure to realise the expected import volumes.
Mr Linturi said at the time that only 90,621 metric tonnes of maize had been imported three months into the duty-free importation window.
“Anybody that has been licensed and who has not [imported maize should] furnish us with the relevant evidence that something is being done, something is on the way because, by April 30, we will cancel those permits where the importer has not [provided] information regarding their importation status”, Mr Linturi said.
The Agro-processors Association of Kenya says that the price of maize in Tanzania is trending upwards on a daily basis and threatens to have an adverse knock-on effect on Kenya, which sources part of its maize from Tanzania.
“Remember, we will be stable in maize supply from November when our farmers will be harvesting. For now, a few traders have the permits. Kenyan traders have flocked Tanzania especially Arusha town but prices are going up daily”, said Mr Wambugu.
The quantity of maize imported into Kenya has seen a steady climb over the past three years with 793,751 metric tonnes valued at Sh24.7 billion imported into the country in 2022. According to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the national average price of a kilogramme of loose maize grain closed April 2023 at Sh79.0, up 29.4 per cent compared to the price registered in April 2022.