Flour distribution a headache for govt

January 4, 2009 12:00 am

MERU, , Jan 4 – The government has no capacity to sustain the distribution of the subsidised flour being sold through the national cereals and produce board to poor Kenyans, an assistant minister has said.

Agriculture assistant minister Japheth Kareke Mbiuki admitted that the cereals board had no logistical capacity to sustain the distribution of the flour to the entire nation and the project may stall.

Speaking to Capital FM on phone, Mr Mbiuki said the government had only secured stockists for Nairobi area alone but had not managed to venture into rural areas.

He said the high costs of distributing the flour may hinder the programme in the long run.

Mr Mbiuki said the government was thinking of selling maize in 20kg bags.

“To be honest, the programme may not be sustainable in the long run due to logistical problems. The national cereals and produce board may not keep the programme running for long especially in rural areas. We have to go back to the drawing board to help our people,” he said.

The Nithi MP said the government was wary of sub-letting the process to businessmen fearing they might exploit consumers.

We cant rely on stockists since they may abuse the process, he said.

The new twist comes as Meru residents complained over persistent high prices for maize flour, a month after the government ordered the cost lowered.

A spot check by Capital FM showed that a 2kg packet was retailing at between Sh95 and Sh120 in shops and some supermarkets in the Meru region while a 1kg packet went for Sh50 to Sh65.

In the entire Meru region, the flour now selling at Sh130 per 5kg bag is only being sold at the Meru town depot.

Only Uchumi and Nakumatt supermarkets situated in Meru town were selling the 2kg packet at the recommended price of Sh70 onwards.

A miller told Capital FM that the government was yet to supply them with the subsidised maize to enable them supply flour at the newly set up price.

Meru Central maize millers company manager Japheth Bundi said they were yet to receive maize from the national cereals and produce board promised by the government at Sh1,750.

We are still using the stock we had bought at Sh2,500 from farmers. If we get the subsidised maize, we will be able to supply flour at even cheaper price, he said.

He said he hoped to get an allocation starting this week.

In the larger Meru, only Meru South and Imenti North districts have received the flour but the supply has already been cut in Meru South.


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