The Government has suspended all import duty and levies on imported maize and animal feed to cushion Kenyans from the steadily rising cost of living.
Speaking today during a media briefing in Nairobi on the Government’s efforts to stabilize the cost of living, the Government Spokesperson, Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna, said the waiver is only for 540,000 metric tons equivalent to 6 million bags of white maize for the months of July and August before the next harvest.
Oguna noted that following the moratorium, individual businessmen are free to bring in the maize to bridge the anticipated deficit of 2.2 million bags.
He urged millers and farmers to start sourcing for the commodities immediately adding that the importation of this quantity of maize will bring the prices of maize flour down.
“A longer solution is on course, as the Government embarks on campaigns to expand the area under maize production through the Land Commercialization Initiative to boost production for both rain fed and irrigated crops,” said Oguna.
Recognizing the challenge of escalating in-put prices, the Spokesperson noted that, the Government released Shs.5.8 billion to subsidize fertilizer and other in-put costs to increase access by farmers so as to encourage higher yields, and to stabilize farm produce prices.
Oguna revealed that an additional Shs.3.5 billion has been released to the tea and sugar sectors to help boost production and to pay farmers arrears out of which Shs.1 billion is fertilizer subsidy to tea farmers, Shs.1.5 billion to the sugar sector, for factory maintenance and payment of farmers’ arrears, and Shs.1 billion to implement the interventions.
Oguna said the government is also considering alternative sources of wheat because no one can predict when the conflict between Ukraine and Russia will end.
On fuel subsidies, he noted that to stabilize fuel prices in order to arrest the cost of producing goods and travel, the Government deployed a stabilization programme in order to cushion our people against the volatility in fuel prices.
“To achieve this, the Government paid Shs.45.93 billion under the fuel subsidy programme. A further Sh20.85 billion was paid mid last month, thereby making the pump prices in the country the lowest in the region,” he added.
Oguna said to encourage fish farming and raise production, the Government has provided Shs.3.2 billion for the feeds, dam liners and predator kits, upgrading of fish landing facilities in different counties, training and edible oils.
The spokesperson stated that a long-term solution is being sought to ensure self-sufficiency in palm oil production by increasing palm trees production in western and coastal counties and also encouraged Kenyans to plant oil processing plants like Sunflower and sesame.
Urging Kenyans to appreciate the fact that the situation we are in is due to global dynamics, Oguna cited Covid-19, prolonged drought, Ukraine/Russia conflict and value of shilling against the dollar as the main factors which have led to high cost of living, making it difficult for a majority of Kenyans to put food on the table.
Oguna explained that the Russia- Ukraine conflict has been going on since February 2022 with the two countries known to have been the source of raw materials as well as the market for some of our products. The conflict itself together with sanctions that have been imposed particularly on Russia have undermined the market as well as the source of raw materials such as fertilizer and wheat products.
The conflict, he said, has equally affected agricultural production in other countries such
as Indonesia and Malaysia, which traditionally have been our source of raw material for edible oil.
According to Oguna, Kenya produces 3,400 metric tons of edible oil against a domestic demand of 808,100 metric tons, leading to a shortfall of 804,700 metric tons.
The spokesperson listed the most affected areas as maize flour, wheat flour, bread, cooking oil, potatoes, cooking gas, pump prices, fares, and kerosene, among others.
The price of maize flour has really gone up in recent weeks, hitting up at between Shs.230 and Sh.240 for a 2 kg packet from about Sh.120 a year ago.
By Catherine Muindi