Cries as maize shortage hits Kenya

Cries as maize shortage hits Kenya

RESIDENTS of Northern Rift Valley in Kenya are expressing dissatisfaction over the ever rising maize prices as loads of maize from Tanzania remain barred at the border as Kenyan government maintains stance against importation of the essential commodity.

Kenyan authorities said they have to test samples of imported maize as it has claimed to have established high levels of aflatoxin that has caused health challenges and even deaths to people in the country.

As the situation remains unresolved residents of Rift Valley are hard hit by escalating prices of maize due to the fact that Kenya produced little grain in 2020/2021 season and now, they have been slapped with an import ban from Tanzania and Uganda.

Reports from North Rift Valley and the neighbouring areas have it that farmers and residents wanted the Kenyan government to liaise with them before putting a ban on maize import from Tanzania at the time when Kenyans need the commodity the most.

Kenyan government, through an internal letter from Kenya's Agriculture and Food Authority to the commissioner of customs at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) end of last week ordered a stop on imports of maize into Kenya from Tanzania and Uganda with immediate effect.

Kilimanjaro Regional Customs Manager, Mr Edwin Iwato, said at the border late on Monday that the Kenyan authorities denied the drivers to drive in their lorries with maize loads since March 5, this year and did not know when the results would be brought and decisions taken.

Mr Iwato unveiled that there have been some challenges in regard to maize trade and exports due to decisions by their counterparts. There were more than 216 tonnes of maize stranded at the Holili Border.

"Is this really the government of wananchi or for the rich few? We do not like what the Jubilee politicians are doing, they are out for their relief only and do not care about our businesses that are collapsing.We are not getting a solution to this challenge from the government as maize prices shoot," said Chairman of the Farmers, Mr Mohammed Katee.

Reports on corn shortage is just a beginning of effects that follow the government's decision to bar maize imports from Tanzania. It is yet to be known what action the government will take to alleviate the shortage and have the situation back to normalcy.

Some economic analysts predict further skyrocketing of maize prices and food generally due to forced changes that have been posted to the food circulation system between Tanzania and Kenya. The latter will have to allow the imports so as to reduce the bite that is becoming unbearable as days unfold.

North Rift Valley residents now depend on getting supply of maize and other grain from nearby counties, although the price is not friendly at the time that they are already experiencing economic difficulties inflicted on them by the Covid-19 that led to some lockdowns and slowdown of economic activities.

Authorities in Kilimanjaro, Arusha regions as well as those from the Ministry of Agriculture in Tanzania could not be reached for comment about what was going on between the two countries to resolve the matter.

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