There’s a looming maize shortage in Nakuru city and local stockists have raised the alarm over the scarcity of the staple food due to suppressed supplies.
The Manager of Menengai Flour Mill Peter Kimani said for the last one week, they haven’t received any maize from their suppliers and since Monday, they have been turning customers away due to lack of unga.
He said they mainly depended on suppliers from the East African countries. However, the middlemen informed them that their stocks have been depleted and they have no capacity of importing from far off countries.
Kimani said they milled over 100 sacks per day and their main customers were local households who purchased between two to ten kilograms of either unga number one or number two.
In addition, he said last week, they had increased their prices by 12 per cent to cater for the increased maize prices, but despite their willingness to pay more, they were unable to access any grains locally.
However, he disputed the assumption that a number of farmers were still holding on to their maize awaiting better prices and urged the government to import more maize to stall the impending shortage.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the local maize production in 2020 stood at 42.1 million bags, down from 44.0 million bags in 2019. The country’s maize flour production over the last five years has averaged 2.8 million tons annually.
The Chairman of the South Rift Farmer’s Association Justus Monda attributed the depressed supply of maize in the country to the past low prices that led to the diversification and branching out to more lucrative crops.
He appealed to the government to subsidize farm inputs to enable local farmers to increase their production and reduce the over-reliance on imports.
By Veronica Bosibori