NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 13 -Senators want the Ministry of Trade, Industrialization and Cooperatives to submit a report on the safety of maize in the country within 14 days.
This is after the Cabinet Secretary for Trade Peter Munya admitted that there was importation of four million bags of maize from Uganda, contrary to the Agriculture Ministry’s submissions Wednesday which said there was no importation of maize from neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania.
Appearing before the Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on the Maize Crisis chaired by Margaret Kamar (Uasin Gishu), Munya said that his ministry has no authority to stop importation of goods from East African countries.
“We are a common market and if one wants to import goods from Uganda or Tanzania they do so, and we cannot stop it. Even Kenyans can sell and buy from Ugandans or from any other East African traders’ duty free. All this is can happen whether we have enough harvest or not,” Munya outlined.
Apart from the four million bags of maize from Uganda, Munya also revealed that more maize was imported from other countries such as Mexico, Ukraine, Russia, Ethiopia and Zambia among others between 2015 and 2018.
The committee members questioned why the government allowed importation of maize from other countries, yet local farmers had enough maize in their stores.
“Are we as a country going to face yet another scandal? Was there a cartel which was benefiting from this importation or why was maize brought in the country, yet our local farmers have been complaining of low prices and sometimes lack of market for their maize?” Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito wondered.
Kajiado Senator Mary Seneta also questioned why the Agriculture and Trade Ministries were having contradictory statements regarding maize importation and called on Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to inspect how maize is stored at National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) after being reported that it was turning yellow.
Agriculture Cabinet Administrative Secretary Kello Harsama on Wednesday told Senators that the National Cereals and Produce Board had enough maize which has been in their silos for over six months and it has started turning yellow thus unfit for human consumption.
He further stated that the ministry was working on where to move the maize even though that would incur more cost.