Tanzania pulls a smart move on Kenya and now says it can only supply floor not grains as maize politics continues to heat up

Bags of maize in storage
  • Contrarily to what was earlier announced, Tanzania will not be selling maize grains to Kenya anymore but something far pricier and more valuable.
  • Tanzanian President John Magufuli made the announcement this past week in Dar es Salaam when he received a delegation from Nairobi that was returning gold and cash stolen from the country. 
  • Maize trade was part of bilateral deals agreed on during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s private visit to Tanzania earlier this month.

Contrarily to what was earlier announced, Tanzania will not be selling maize grains to Kenya anymore but something far pricier and more valuable.

Kenya’s neigbour will instead sell maize flour, a smart move which would see the country earn far more than what it would have fetched from supplying the raw product as earlier agreed.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli made the announcement this past week in Dar es Salaam when he received a delegation from Nairobi that was returning gold and cash stolen from the country. 

Tanzania’s decision to ship in processed maize puts a spin in the maize politics in Kenya after the government opened a window to allow millers and traders to import 12.5 million bags to cover a shortfall.

Maize trade was part of bilateral deals agreed on during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s private visit to Tanzania earlier this month where he visited Magufuli’s rural home of Chato and walked away with four beautiful peacocks.

Subiri Obwogo, a Kenyan agricultural analyst said Tanzania pulled a smart move by choosing to value-add their commodity.

“I can bet that Tanzania will not sell the flour cheaply. This is not charity but a business venture.” East African quoted him as saying.

This latest pronouncement will, however, help cool tempers that had been stoked by delays in clearing maize consignments at the Holili-Taveta border crossing, with Tanzanian traders accusing Kenyan authorities of laxity.

Truck drivers delivering maize from Tanzania had also complained of being stranded in Kenya's coastal city Mombasa with their consignment as millers were reluctant to buy the grain.

To ensure the deal sails through and Tanzania holds its end of the bargain, President Magufuli has already ordered the military to buy maize from farmers for milling.

We have grains in stock that are as old as one-and-a- half years. We shall allow Kenyans to choose the best, then process it at competitive rates and assist in transporting the flour,” said the permanent secretary in Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture Mathew Mtigumwe. 

Last month, Kenya’s Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri warned of depleting maize stock and said the country may need to import maize to ease the shortage.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga added that Kenya needs 4.3 million bags of maize a month from which about 1.5 million bags are milled. The rest is sent to schools as food.

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