MOMBASA, Kenya, May 15 – The 29,900 metric tonnes imported into the country last week is Mexican maize transhipped into Kenya through South Africa, the Kenyan Government has clarified.
Transport Principal Secretary Professor Paul Mwangi said South Africa had imported the maize last year when it was facing acute shortage, but some of it had not been used.
The consignment which arrived late last week, was according to Mwangi, sold to millers locally by the Johannesburg-based Inter Africa Grains PTY Company.
“The maize was imported from Mexico into South Africa under storage and then we’re picking it up from there. That is why we’re able to order and get it in five days,” Mwangi told members of the press on Monday at the Port of Mombasa.
He further reaffirmed that the maize was imported by private millers Kitui Flour Mills, Pembe Flour Mills and Hydery (P) Limited and not the government, a position earlier stated by his counterpart in the State Department of Agriculture, Dr Richard Lesiyampe.
“All maize being imported into the country is by private millers, and not the government,” Lesiyampe said Saturday in a briefing note on the maize importation.
A total of 990,000 bags of 90 kilograms each will have been imported by the end of May.
Lesiyampe noted that the maize was being imported into the country duty-free courtesy of a gazette notice published on May 12 which effectively waived all duty on all sugar, maize and powdered milk products.
Other than white maize for human consumption, the Agriculture PS said that a total of 15 animal feeds millers had been identified to import four million bags of yellow maize by September.
This according to Lesiyampe, will cushion the citizens against high cost of food products until South Rift, Nyanza and Western regions begin to harvest maize in October.
The clarification follows outbursts by National Super Alliance leaders who have questioned how maize imported from Mexico could arrive at the port of Mombasa within six days.
NASA leader Raila Odinga had accused the government of being insincere in the current importation of maize saying the Jubilee administration was not committed to solving the problem of soaring food prices.
“Every month Kenyans use three million bags of maize. What they’ve imported in just a drop in the ocean,” he said at a local function.
Deputy President William Ruto however responded in a quick rejoinder during his tour of the Western region on Sunday asking the Opposition to be sincere in their criticism of the government.
“There’s nothing new these fellows are telling us. When they were in leadership, they still imported maize like we’re doing,” DP Ruto said.
“The highest yield in the history of maize growing in Kenya was in 2015 when we harvested 42.5 million bags of maize,” he added.