A consignment of 10,000 tonnes of imported maize is expected to land in the country today.
According to Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) officials who spoke to the Nation, the goods currently aboard a ship into the country will be arriving before an official gazette notice legally allowing imports into the country is released.
The officials, however, noted that the type and origin of the maize expected to dock into the country is not established.
“We will check for you the details once the manifest is confirmed through customs today," a KPA corporate communications office said.
Trade and Industry Cabinet Secretary (CS) Moses Kuria on Monday, November 21, 2022, announced that the maize will be imported by the private sector. He further stated that the government would not import any maize.
“The gazette notice that we will release will open up the market to millers and anyone to import maize duty-free for six months. The government will not import any maize,” Kuria stated.
On Thursday, November 17, 2022, Kuria announced that he was set to clear the way for the importation of 10 million bags of duty-free Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) maize to mitigate the effects of hunger.
He added that he would sign the gazette notice authorising the shipment of 10 million bags of duty-free maize into the country. The duty-free window for the importation of the maize is expected to last six months.
Leaders oppose maize importation
The announcement by the CS sparked debate amongst a section of leaders who opposed the move to import maize.
Led by a section of Members of Parliament (MPs) from the North Rift region, the leaders opposed the move stating that the decision will hurt farmers.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said plans to ship 10 million bags into the country were in bad faith and would demoralise local farmers currently harvesting their crops.
Cherargei argued that the farmers are likely to incur huge losses after spending so much on farm inputs.
"When we were planting maize we spent about Ksh7,000 on fertiliser per bag. The price of petrol was also high. Importing the maize will hurt maize prices in the country and our farmers won't get returns for their sweat," he argued.
The senator suggested that the Kenya Kwanza government should prioritise buying the current harvest before importing any maize into the country.
"We are calling on the government to suspend plans to import maize into the country and spend the next three months buying the harvest from our farmers. If there is a shortage by February then they can go ahead with the importation plans," he added.
He said he will be leading a group of MPs from the region to meet Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Mithika Linturi and his Trade, Investment and Industry counterpart Moses Kuria for talks on the ongoing plans.
"It is surprising that the CSs for Trade and Agriculture appear not to recognise the fact that our farmers are currently harvesting maize. I don't think the statement on importing maize was made in good faith. It will demoralise our farmers. MPs from the Rift Valley region will be sitting with the two CSs by Tuesday to address this matter," he added.