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Cheaper Ugali for Kenya

NAIROBI, December 1 – A day-long meeting between millers and the government has resolved to reduce maize flour prices to Sh72 per two kilogramme packet.

The meeting at Prime Minister (PM) Raila Odinga’s Treasury office also agreed that millers would produce government branded flour that will retail at Sh52 for the low income earners.

“The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) will put in place a distribution mechanism through stockists to ensure that the product reaches all the targeted consumers,” Agriculture Minister William Ruto said after the meeting.

Mr Ruto said he did not expect the prices to go up during the Christmas festivities because it was a negotiated agreement. The price of flour has been rising by the day making the precious ugali (maize meal) a luxury for many who consider it a staple food. A two kilogram packet of maize flour was retailing at between Sh85 and Sh150, up from Sh48 in December last year.

Mr Odinga had on Saturday promised Kenyans that the escalating prices of maize flour would go down. Speaking during his home-coming party in Lang’ata constituency, the Premier said that the government was working on urgent measures to bring down the prices.

“I know you are hungry, the cost of living is high. You have said you want maize flour to come down to Sh40 and the government will look into that,” he told the charged crowd. He blamed the rising cost of flour on the market and said it was affected by an increase in the prices of maize.

The meeting to lower the price of the commodity had at the beginning hit a deadlock after millers refused to lower their prices to acceptable levels. The Government had insisted at setting the prices at between Sh55 and 60 but the millers were wary that they would incur losses should they sell at that price.

It was agreed that the millers consult amongst each other, before they report back to the PM for a second round of meeting with their agreed prices.

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Others present at the meeting were Assistant Minister Alfred Khangati, Permanent Secretaries Romano Kiome (Agriculture), Joseph Kinyua (Finance) and other top government officials.

Mr Ruto also said the government would be buying maize directly from farmers from Tuesday to root out rogue middlemen.

“Millers have one week to leave the maize market as the NCPB will be purchasing maize from farmers at Sh1, 950 per 90 kilogram bag.”

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