[ACCI-CAVIE] A 90-kilo bag of maize has shot up to Sh6,000 on the back of a shortage and stiff competition between millers and other agencies, piling pressure on households.
The price of the commodity had dropped to Sh5,000 a bag early this month after the State announced that imports would start coming in from February 6, forcing farmers to release additional stocks to the market.
The price rise is due to a shortage following delayed imports and the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) announcement last week that it had increased the buying price of maize from Sh5,100 to Sh5,600.
The price review by NCPB has seen millers also increase the price at which they buy the produce to attract farmers.
“Even at Sh6,000 a bag, we are struggling to get maize from farmers,” said Aggarwal Atin, chief executive at Trident Millers.
Maize imports, which were expected early this month, have been delayed, allowing farmers and traders to hoard the grain in price speculation.
Millers have already adjusted the price of flour in line with the rising cost of maize, with a bale that was selling at Sh2,050 now going for Sh2,250.
At the supermarkets, the retail price of the staple has jumped to Sh190 for a two-kilo packet from Sh180 at the beginning of the month, pointing to tough times for consumers.
The State, in December, announced that it would allow the importation of 10 million bags of maize to curb the shortage that has seen the cost of flour remain high in the market on the back of the high cost of the grain.
The State will allow traders to import the commodity outside the regional market duty-free between February and August this year, just two months before the onset of the main harvest in October.
The State says the import will cover the existing deficit and will cut down on the cost of flour on the shelves.
The Agriculture ministry says at least 50 traders had been issued with permits for importation but so far none has been able to ship in the produce.
Millers opted out of the programme after the State forced them to sign a memorandum of understanding stating that the imported grain will land at Sh4,200 to have an impact on consumers.
By Gerald Andae and LB