Gov’t turns to importing rice as maize-producing countries refuse to sell

By , K24 Digital
On Wed, 22 Mar, 2023 20:48 | 2 mins read
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi. PHOTO/@mithika_Linturi/X.

The government is unable to get enough maize from other countries to satisfy the demand in the country, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has revealed.

Appearing before the Parliamentary committee on Agriculture and Livestock, CS Linturi revealed that maize-producing countries are unwilling to sell maize to Kenya, fearing for their food security.

He said that the government has so far imported 1,305 metric tonnes of maize, which is not enough to plug the demand gap. As a result, the government has now opted to import rice to ensure food security for the country.

“We are trying to look for maize out there but the truth of the matter is that it is not there,” explained Linturi. Some of the countries we have approached do not want to share their maize with us because they are afraid of their food security," Linturi said.

Rice for maize

“In another ten days, we will have landed in this country with enough rice and maize. I ask you, members, to ask farmers to release any maize they are holding as prices will crush when this maize comes in."

Linturi has urged Kenyans to embrace eating rice, potatoes and other available foods until the situation in the country stabilises.

"I, therefore, urge Kenyans to embrace rice, potatoes, and other food substitutes. We have already brought tonnes of rice and we are bringing more next week,” he said.

In order to plug the food supply gap, the government has thus far imported about 43 metric tonnes of rice into the country.

In a gazette notice dated December 23, 2022, National Treasury and Planning Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u officially gazetted the duty-free importation of 900,000 metric tonnes of white maize, 600,000 metric tonnes of milled rice and 100,000 metric tonnes of sugar. 

A 2kg packet of unga in most of local supermarkets is retailing at between Ksh190 and Ksh220 while a 90-kg bag of maize is selling at more than Ksh5,000.