15 February 2010

Kenya: Bad Maize From SA to Be Destroyed

Nairobi — More than 30,000 bags of contaminated maize held by the National Cereals and Produce Board at its Embu depot will be destroyed on Friday.

The maize, according to Public Heath minister Beth Mugo who made the announcement on Monday, is part of a consignment imported under the scandal-riddled subsidy scheme in 2008.

While the bulk of the contaminated maize was reshipped to South Africa where it originated, Mrs Mugo said, part of the consignment had found its way into the market.

"I raised the red flag that some of the contaminated maize had found its way into the market but some people denied it. Sadly, it was the truth," she said, adding that she would lead the destruction of the bad maize.

Tests have confirmed that the consignment contained the highest aflatoxin levels ever found in the country, the minister said. Aflatoxin is a poison that causes cancer.

The ministry went to court last year to have the maize declared unfit for human consumption but the cereals board appealed against the orders.

The appeal was however thrown out and the ministry given the green light to destroy the cereal.

Two permanent secretaries, senior managers at the cereals board and an official in the Prime Minister's office have been suspended over the maize subsidy scandal.

Mrs Mugo called on Prime Minister Raila Odinga to resign too for irregular award of tenders to firms that imported the maize.


Mr Odinga, she said, had to account for his role as the chair of the Cabinet sub-committee on food security. It is this committee that cleared Afrigil pty of South Africa, which won the sole rights to import subsidised maize.

Others in the committee included Trade minister Amos Kimunya, then acting Finance minister John Michuki, Agriculture minister William Ruto and Special Programmes minister Naomi Shaban.

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