, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 11 – The cost of flour in the country may reduce to manageable levels after the government bought 30,000 metric tonnes of maize from Mexico.
All the shipment has landed at the Port of Mombasa and according to Government Spokesperson Eric Kiraithe, 750,000 more bags are expected in the country in two weeks time.
The imports, Kiraithe says are intended to increase the maize stock in the country and subsequently lower the price of flour, which has led to a public outcry.
“The Ministry of Agriculture projects that licensed importers will continue sourcing for theses commodities from the international markets in the coming weeks and months,” he said during a briefing to journalists on Thursday.
“As the nation continues to recover from the ravages of the severe drought, the government would like to appeal to farmers, food manufacturers and other stakeholders in the food value chain not to engage in unfair business practices such as hoarding which creates artificially enforced shortages for the purpose of and profit from the drought. Such practices are illegal and amount to economic sabotage.”
He said substantial sugar imports have already arrived in the country from Sudan and Egypt to cover the current deficit.
Compared to the region, he said, Kenya “has done tremendously well in managing the effects of the current drought.”
“The various initiatives by the government to lessen the impact of the drought such as the livestock insurance schemes, strategic grain reserves, farm input subsidy initiatives, enhancement of irrigated agriculture as well as tax and duty incentives have received international recognition as global best practices.”
The government moves to lower the cost of basic commodities in the short term, we are glad that the rains are here with us and that the situation will normalize in due course.”
He noted that with the current rains, the dairy sector has started showing signs of recovery from the ravages of the long and severe drought.
Reports from the sector indicate an increase in pasture and in due course, the production of milk will increase hence lowering the shelf prices, Kiraithe said.
According to him, the Eastern and Southern Africa region have been experiencing the worst drought in the last 20 years, both in intensity and duration, which has led to increased cost of basic commodities.
As a result, he said the region is experiencing a shortage of key agricultural supplies.
The worst affected commodities are maize, sugar, and milk which have recorded a sharp and unprecedented rise in market prices.