Kampala — Uganda is expected to increase maize exports to Kenya as the country faces another round of more than 12.5 million bags shortfall.
Uganda has seen its exports to Kenya grow exponentially due to increasing maize exports.
According to Bank of Uganda, total exports to Kenya rose to $719m as of December 2018 compared to the $551.06m recorded in 2017 with maize grain topping the exports.
Despite experiencing a bumper harvest last year, when Kenya produced 46 million bags, up from 35 million in 2017, the country is experiencing a maize shortage blamed on the chaotic management of the National Cereals and Produce Board, and the Strategic Food Reserve.
Agricultural think tank Tegemeo Institute and Millers have warned Kenya is on the verge of depleting the existing stocks by the end of this month, prompting the government to allow the importation of maize from July to December. By July, government projects a shortfall of 4.3 million bags of maize.
"We require to import 10 million bags between now and December: That is white maize for human consumption and another 2.5 million bags to produce animal feeds," Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, said, noting that during the importation window, millers and traders will be allowed to import.
Data from the East Africa Grain Council shows that following the bumper harvest last year, maize trade among EAC member states in the first quarter of this year declined significantly.
The grain council's East Africa Cross-border Trade Bulletin shows that the estimated volume of maize traded in the region in the first quarter of this year stood at 85,000 tonnes, 24 per cent lower than the October-December 2018 quarter.
The decrease in regional trade in maize, according the East Africa Grain Council, was mainly because of a significant reduction in imports by Kenya, especially from Uganda, where carryover stocks for the July 2018 to June 2019 period were significantly high.
Tanzania, details from the Grain Council indicates, accounted for 45 per cent of the total regional exports, surpassing Uganda, which was the dominant exporter last quarter.
Maize tops Uganda exports. According to Bank of Uganda, total exports to Kenya rose to $719m as of December 2018 with maize grain topping the exports.
Kenya continues to depend on imports even after accusing Tanzania and Uganda of distorting its local maize market due to dumping.
The opening of the import window is expected to open the trade floodgates, and Tanzania and Uganda are still expected to compete for the market.
But Kenyan traders have in the past imported from far off countries such as Brazil and Mexico.