Government to involve more millers in maize subsidy programme
Small and Medium millers will from Friday start receiving 200, 000 bags of white maize from the various depots of the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) across the country.
Fifty five registered medium and small millers out of the 300, who have been camping at Kilimo House since Monday to sign the government’s subsidy contracts to get the imported maize for milling were Thursday assured of the allocation of maize that will arrive in the country from Ethiopia on Saturday.
Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe, in a crisis meeting with millers at his Kilimo House confirmed that Government will receive 50,000 metric tonnes of maize from Ethiopia via Moyale.
“The approximately 555,555 bags will arrive at Moyale on Saturday and be distributed to NCPB depots at Marsabit, Nanyuki, Nyeri and Thika to enable the millers collect conveniently,” said Dr. Lesiyampe.
He added that the government will allocate the 200,000 bags from the consignment to the small millers immediately and after 10 days, meet with the millers to review depending on the uptake.
“We expected the small millers to start producing the subsidized maize flour of Sh90 immediately to increase availability of the commodity in the local market,” he stated.
Lesiyampe assured the public that the government is further expecting another consignment from Zambia next week, which will boost the availability of subsidized maize flour to Kenyans.
“Up to end of July, our intention to have imported into the country 5 million bags, which will thus be boosted by harvest from the early crop expected to start on mid-July should all the factors of production remain constant,” he added.
He called on farmers and traders who have maize to sell it to the government.
He explained that the millers will be expected to follow the Sh 6 billion subsidy programme requirements of producing and packaging the maize flour at Sh90 for the 2kg packet, and warned that any one who contravenes the subsidy regulations programme risk a jail term of six years or a fine of Sh1 million .
During the meeting, the ministry signed contracts with the medium and small millers so that they can quickly start supplying the maize flour, after complying with KRA regulations.
Even as millers sourced maize through international companies that deal with food commodities, Lesiyampe confirmed that under the subsidy programme, government will buy all the maize directly and also from the millers who are able to import and in turn sell it to all the millers in the country at Sh2, 300.
“Government will also store 1 million bags from the 5 million bags imports into the national grain strategic reserve and distribute it to millers in case they run out of stock. We will be regularly monitoring the inflow of the maize in the market until it stabilizes”.
Small millers control more than 60 per cent of maize flour in the market and mostly serving market segment outside the main urban centres.
United Grain Millers Association chairman Peter Kuguru said majority of the small millers have an average milling capacity of 30 tonnes per day (333 bags) and if they continue without raw materials they would be forced to close down.
“We appreciate the government gesture as this will ensure we retain our market share. We serve a crucial segment of the market and government has a duty to ensure all our rights are recognized,” said Kuguru.
He called on the government to embrace consultations with the small millers before engaging other value chain players or making decisions around the industry. Large millers signed the subsidy contracts early this week and received the maize imported into the country last week.
By Wangari Ndirangu