Kenya: Millers Oppose Government Maize Flour Blending Policy

Millers are protesting the government's proposal to blend maize flour with other local grains in an effort to ease overreliance of maize.

Grain Industries Limited Chief Executive Officer Munir Thabit said the government's blending policy, which aims at promoting use of sorghum, millet and cassava, is untimely and called for consultations with all stakeholders before its roll out.

Mr Thabit said millers would be forced to upgrade their mills and ramps, which would see them incur extra cost.

"Though it has a lot of nutritious advantages, the millers will suffer as majority do not have the capacity to install such grinders to blend the elements to the required standards. All millers need to change their facilities and we need time to do so," he said.

HIGHER UNGA PRICES

Installing such equipment takes more than 12 months since most of grinders are imported and procurement process takes time and money, he added.

Millers warn that should the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) policy, which was drafted last year, come into effect (WHEN?), Kenyans would pay more for their unga as only few millers have capacity to blend the grains.

They also cite low supply of sorghum and millet in the country.

"The price of maize flour will automatic go up since very few millers will be able to import sorghum and millet. We have statistics which indicates such local nutritious grains are not produced in the country in bulky," said Mr Thabit.

He added: "Small millers will have to close down as most of them do not have no capacity to import such mixers which will give them best quality."

IMPORTS

The maize flour blending policy is in line with 2012 World Declaration on nutrition which Kenya endorsed by passing food fortification legislation, meant to reduce prevalence of vitamin and minerals deficiencies.

The government argues that blended maize flour enhances food security which forms part of its Big Four Agenda.

Mr Thabit also urged that the government offers subsidies to farmers to encourage them to plant more wheat. He said 80 percent of millers import wheat from Ukraine, Argentina and United States.

"If the government provides incentives, more farmers will shift to wheat farming since the demand is ready."

Kenya produces less than 500,000 tonnes of wheat against consumption of over one million tonnes, forcing the country to rely on imports to plug the deficit.

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