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Public awaits cheaper flour

NAIROBI, December 1 – The government was on Monday due to announce new prices for maize and maize flour.

A meeting to be chaired by Prime Minister Raila Odinga and attended by millers was expected to iron out the new prices following a similar meeting held on Sunday.

During the three hour meeting the government had offered to supply maize to millers at Sh1750 per bag and wanted to know by how much the millers would lower the price.

The PM said escalating food prices had raised a serious crisis that “has all the makings of a catastrophe.”

According to the Prime Minister Press Service (PMPS), the millers were in agreement that if they got a regular supply of maize at cheaper prices, they would have no problem lowering the prices.

“The representatives of the millers asked for time to brief all their members and agree on how much the prices would come down. They are expected to report back to the PM on Monday at 10am after which new prices will be announced,” the statement read.

The Cabinet sub-committee on food security includes Agriculture Minister William Ruto, his Special Programmes counterpart Naomi Shaban and Acting Finance Minister John Michuki who was represented by Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua.

Also at the meeting was National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) Managing Director Prof Gideon Misoi.

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The millers were frustrated because they could neither access the commodity from NCPB nor the farmers who have refused to sell at Sh1700 for a 90-kg bag.

The cabinet meeting on Thursday under the chairmanship of President Mwai Kibaki, mandated NCPB to immediately import the scarce commodity and sell it directly to millers, eliminating middlemen who have been blamed for the current crisis.

The price of flour has been rising by the day making ugali (maize meal) a luxury for many who consider it a staple food. A two kilogram packet of maize flour is now retailing at between Sh85 and Sh150, up from Sh48 in December last year.

On Wednesday, the country witnessed the first ever demonstration over the crisis after residents of Soweto Village in Kibera slums demanded action from the government.

Parliament interrupted normal business last Wednesday to discuss the crisis and lawmakers tasked the government to consider other alternative crops instead of the high reliance on maize.

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