US white maize docks in Kenya

March 13, 2009 12:00 am

, MOMBASA, Kenya, Mar 13 – The first consignment of 30,000 metric tonnes of white maize from the United States arrived at the port of Mombasa on Friday, as part of that government’s efforts to help mitigate the food crisis in the country.

US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger was on hand to receive the cargo on board MV Patent, which had been donated by several organisations in the United States.

“The US government will continue to assist the government in its efforts to alleviate the food shortage being experienced in the country,” promised the Ambassador.

Mr Ranneberger was quick to add that the maize was of high quality and had undergone a number of tests and inspections in the US to allay any fears over the consignment.

Recently, there was controversy over a consignment of maize shipped from South Africa, a third of which the Kenya Bureau of Standards said was contaminated and should be shipped back.

“Our government has conducted all manner of tests to ensure that the maize is fit for human consumption,” he assured.

Mr Ranneberger said on Friday: “The private sector in the US had evaluated the economic crisis in Kenya and was willing to help in any way despite the global economic crunch.”

The second shipment of 90,000 metric tonnes is expected to arrive in the country in April.

Just one week ago the government warned of a possible leak into the market of 6,350 metric tonnes of contaminated maize that could cause kidney failure, mental problems, and burning of the skin and eyes among other ailments.

Public Health Minister Beth Mugo sounded the alert, saying that maize imported from South Africa in November last year was certified as tainted with high levels of aluminium phosphide, by the government chemist and Kenya Bureau of Standards.

“So my officers have said the maize is not good and it should never have been allowed into the country and we are wondering why it was allowed in. In fact we would like to know who has this interest in the maize,” the Minister had said in a press conference.

Aluminium phosphide is a colourless solid chemical compound which is generally sold as a grey-green-yellow powder and is used as a fumigant (for pest control).

Mrs Mugo said only 95 metric tonnes found to be discoloured were re-shipped to their country of origin with the same vessel that had transported the grain to Kenya.

Three other hatches in the same shipment were found fit for human consumption and immediately released into the market.


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