22 May 2019

Kenya: Supremacy Battles Delay Release of Cheap Maize

Households will wait longer for subsidised maize flour due the supremacy battles between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) board over who should release the stock to the market.

The SFR board has taken issue with an advert placed by the ministry last week outlining the process of releasing the three million bags of maize from the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), accusing the latter of usurping its mandate.

"The advert that was put last week in the newspapers was misplaced because it was put by the wrong people who do not have the mandate over the stocks at the SFR," said Noah Wekesa, the chairperson of the SFR.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri met with millers over a month ago and agreed to release the subsidised maize to arrest the rising cost of flour.

Flour prices have on average increased from Sh86.50 in March to the current Sh119 for the two kilo packet due to a grains shortage, which lifted maize prices to Sh3,400 a bag from Sh2,700 in February.

The three million bags of maize will be sold at Sh2,300 to millers and posho mill owners to ease flour prices.

Dr Wekesa maintained that the stocks that are held at the NCPB are under the direct mandate of the SFR, which should have more say on how it is handled.

The Ministry of Agriculture has held over three meetings with the millers in the last one month where officials from the SFR were not involved.

The SFR, according to Dr Wekesa, held a board meeting yesterday and plans to meet the millers next week to lay out the modalities of releasing the stocks.

The SFR chairman said they met with the Agriculture Principal Secretary on Monday where it was agreed that the board will oversee the distribution of grain to millers.

"There are no differences now. We met with the PS on Wednesday and agreed on the way forward," said Dr Wekesa told the Business Daily on the phone.

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