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Tough times ahead as a 2kg bag of maize flour to retail at Sh150

 

Currently a 2kg bag of Pembe fortified maize meal is retailing at Sh 124, Ndovu 2kg will cost you three precious shillings more and most disheartening of all a 2kg bag of Hostesss premium maize meal retails at Sh 147.

If you decide to go the bulk way a 5kg bag of Soko maize flour will take you back Sh 316 more than Sh 50 it used to retain a month ago.

A 10kg bag of pembe maize flour now retails at Sh 618 and steadily increasing by the day.

The prices is not   any better on EXE products either, all-purpose 2kg wheat flour retails at Sh 122 while its counterpart  Mandazi fortified wheat flour goes for Sh 144.

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This entire spike in basic food items is a result of the government sitting on its laurels and ignoring the findings of a think tank that recommended early importation of maize to bridge the deficit.

Last October, Tegemeo Institute of Agriculture, a research wing of Egerton University,forewarned the government of a looming shortage of the produce, calling for importation of sufficient maize.

The research recommended that the government scout outside Africa for white non-Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) maize, given that most countries on the continent from which Kenya imports the produce were facing deficits.

“There is a need to monitor closely the food situation in Kenya and prepare early for a possible maize shortage, taking into account the lag-time in procurement,” Tegemeo said in the findings.

“An early consideration of potential sources of such imports is critical given the drought ravaging the region and the export bans in some food-surplus countries,” the findings said as captured by a local daily.

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Kenya normally imports grain from Uganda and Tanzania to bridge its production shortfall. Tanzania has restricted export of maize while Uganda registered a lower output than usual last season.

Currently the government is considering importing maize from Mexico, but is yet to make the move.

The cabinet minister of Agriculture, Willy Bett early this month said the government has a total of 21 million bags of maize in its reserves, enough to last the country for five months.

As a precaution his ministry was planning to import maize to ease ongoing drought.

A 90kg bag of maize is now Sh 500 more and currently retails at Sh3, 700, from Sh3, 200 last month.

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Kenyans are going to feel the effects of spiraling prices even more as the maize from Mexico could also take longer to get to the country because East African Community member countries have a common external tariff of 50 per cent that is levied on grain from outside the trade bloc.

A single member state cannot reduce/remove the duty at its discretion.

The ministries of Devolution, Agriculture and Treasury had jointly formed a team to report on the planned importation. The team was to give the report to President Uhuru Kenyatta on January 27.

With the ongoing drought ravaging parts of the country Kenyans must brace themselves for tough times ahead.

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