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The disagreement between Kenyan food importers and the Kenyan government may increase hunger in the country

Maize crop
  • Kenyan food importers and the Kenyan government butt heads over the subject of duty-free imports. 
  • The Kenyan government intends to cut down of food prices by implementing duty-free imports. 
  • However, food importers in the country have noted that such cut-downs would affect their profit margins. 

Kenyan families may continue to pay high prices for food due to a pricing conflict over the importation of cheap food, following the Kenyan government's intentions to cut down commodity prices through duty-free imports.

The duty-free imports of maize, rice, sugar, and cooking oil are anticipated to endure for a year beginning on January 20. Still, disputes over profit margins have cast a shadow over the program.

Via the Kenya National Trade Corporation (KNTC), the Kenyan government aims to import 150,000 tonnes of rice, 125,000 tonnes of cooking oil, 200,000 tonnes of sugar, 50,000 tonnes of wheat, and 80,000 tonnes of beans.

The port of Mombasa is expected to receive a total of 27 vessels in the following 14 days, including 15 container cargo vessels, three car carriers, eight conventional vessels, and one oil tanker, according to Kenya’s Authority Ships list.


As a result, millers' have refused to import under these circumstances imposed by the government. The government offered to let the maize millers import under the duty-free scheme, but they rejected it, saying it would be too expensive to import a 90kg bag of corn for KSh4,200 ($33.26).

The association noted that the cost might go to KSh6,000 ($47.52) due to the high pricing on the foreign market and the scarcity of the good.

However, the millers' genuineness has been called into question, in light of prior instances where maize was swiftly imported from nearby nations despite initial reports that it would be transported from Mexico.

All the 23 members of the Cereal Millers Association (CMA), who had applied to participate, pulled out following the disagreement on landed prices.

“To the best of our knowledge, we have not seen a list of gazetted importers and none of our members has been issued a permit to import. At the moment, the cost of a 90-kilo bag of maize grain will vary depending on the source, but would be in the range of KSh5,500 ($43.56) to KSh5,600 ($44.35),” said CMA Chief Executive Officer Paloma Fernandes.


“Normally, procurement of grain abroad can take between 30 and 60 days and is subject to availability of grain. We can only estimate the time once any of our millers get their permits,” Ms. Fernandes added.

Following the government's notice to import duty-free maize, the majority of farmers in Kenya's North Rift area, the nation's food basket, have sold out of their crops.



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