NAIROBI, KENYA — Kenyan millers are on the verge of running out of maize as disputes continue between the government, the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR), millers and the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).
According to the United Grain Millers Association, about 50 of the country’s 200 millers have closed because of the maize shortage.
The SFR last week released 1.7 million bags of maize — one million to big millers and 700,000 to the small millers — but millers said it was a small amount, the Daily Nation newspaper reported.
Citing sources within the government, the newspaper said the NCPB has 1.5 million bags of maize while millers have less than 700,000. That is not enough for three weeks of production.
The NCPB has delayed release of bags because of Sh12 billion ($118.6 million) owed to it by the government and the SFR.
Millers who were cleared by the SFR after making payments, have been turned away at NCPB depots when they’ve gone to collect maize, the newspaper reported.
The shortage has increased prices for a bag of maize and also added to feed costs. Martin Kinoti, secretary general of the Association of Kenya Feed Manufacturers (AKEFEMA), said animal feeds have hit a three-year high and will continue to rise if the government doesn’t act.
Kinoti has asked the government to remove the duty on yellow maize and allow processors to import for the exclusive use of animal feeds. He also has asked the government to expedite imports of white and yellow maize.
It can take a month and a half, or longer, for imported maize to be available in Kenya. Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur said a comprehensive stock-taking process would have to be done before imports started and this process has not started, the Daily Nation reported.