Kenya’s maize imports could cost up to Ksh 1 billion for more than six months. The Ministry of Agriculture advised that additional supplies will be required to boost current stocks. The government has projected that the country will need an additional 300,000 bags to bridge the gap between cross-border imports from neighboring countries and the projected harvest from farmers at the end of September.The main importers of cereals are private maize millers and relief agencies. A sharp increase in maize prices with the projected supplies are not likely to keep the cost of the staple cereal steady, feels the government. In March, a 90 kilogram bag of maize was being sold at Ksh 2,979. Given these factors and import duty, etc, importers could spend up to Sh1 billion on the projected imports.
The country is said to have a surplus of about 190,242 bags of maize assuming there is good rainfall in south Rift, Nyanza, lower parts of Western Province and the coastal strip over the next six months. The market prices for the rice, maize and wheat are likely to go down. However, the prices will still remain high.
Last month, the country had 18.61 million bags of maize thanks to the consistent maize production in Kenya. By the end of September Maize production in Kenya if consistent, is projected to have a total of 21.97 million bags in stock. Nearly 4.75 million bags of maize are expected to come if there are good rains and 750,000 as imports from other East African countries. It is projected that 2.44 million bags will be lost through the harvest process and the balance will be imported by the private sector and relief agencies to meet the national consumption which is expected to be 21.78 million bags.
The ministry, in its food security situation report issued at the end of June last year, advised for importing the maize as it saw a shortfall of four million bags through December last year. Johnson Irungu, director of agriculture in the crop management directorate, feels that there will not be heavy imports unless there is a major disaster as it would be too expensive for the importers. Mr Irungu revealed that in some parts of the country, maize prices had started rising and were almost approaching Sh 3,000 per bag. Inflation for the month of March stood at 15.61 per cent, mainly driven by an increase in the prices of food and fuel.
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