NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 10 – Members of Parliament were on Wednesday afternoon expected to sample government branded maize to ascertain the quality of the subsidised product intended to cushion Kenyans from escalating food prices.
Agriculture Assistant Minister Kareke Mbiuki committed to avail different tastes of ‘ugali’ to the House with the assistance of Parliament’s catering staff after legislators raised concerns about the differences between the cheaper state commissioned flour and other brands.
“I am willing to come back in the afternoon and table the different samples available in the market and give the members the opportunity to sample them,” Mr Mbiuki said.
The government launched the subsidised flour on Tuesday and announced that a five kilogram bag would retail at Sh130.
The first consignment of 400,000 five-kilogram bags was expected to be on sale in Nairobi on Wednesday morning but the distribution would be rolled out to other parts of the country later. The flour will be distributed by National Cereals and Produce Board using existing retail networks.
The government yielded to public pressure to provide affordable flour as food became more and more out of reach for ordinary Kenyans.
There is confusion as to whom and where the staple food ingredient will be availed. While Prime Minister Raila Odinga says it will be available to all Kenyans but at specific locations, the Agriculture Minister William Ruto says the flour is only for low income earners but will be available in regular supermarkets.
The subsidised commodity is part of a resolution reached between the government and maize millers last week in a bid to cushion Kenyans from the escalating price of food.
The price of a two-kilogram packet rose to Sh120 last month up from Sh48 in December last year, owing to the scarcity of maize in the country. The President later called it an artificial shortage created by unscrupulous businessmen and greedy politicians.