NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 27 – Kenyan wheat farmers should brace themselves for increased competition after the United States was granted permission to export wheat to Kenya.
US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday that Kenya had agreed to lift a ban on US wheat, following a deal between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his American counterpart President Donald Trump.
The decade old prohibition had locked out states such as Idaho, Oregon, and Washington from shipping to Kenya.
The move therefore gives America access to a market worth well over Sh50.4 billion.
“American farmers in the Pacific Northwest now have full access to the Kenyan wheat market,” said Greg Ibach, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.
“This action proves our commitment to securing fair treatment and greater access for U.S. products in the global marketplace,” he added.
- Farmers’ problems
The move comes at a time when wheat farmers have petitioned the government to protect local producers from imports that have flooded the market.
In January, Kenya Farmers Association Director Kipkorir Menjo said their harvest was being threatened by imported tonnes of wheat adding that they only contribute to 20 percent of what is consumed in the country annually.
Kenya produces an estimated 350,000 tonnes of wheat annually, against annual consumption needs of up to 900,000 tonnes, hence relies heavily on imported wheat.
Locally, the amount of wheat produced rebounded last year attributable to good weather conditions.
Experts are yet to determine whether the current locust outbreak will interfere with the amount of wheat produced this year.