Traders trucked in 3.28 million bags of cheaper maize from Uganda in five months through May, fresh official statistics indicate, helping price out maize farmers from Kenya’s food basket regions.
Data released by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) shows 295,200 metric tonnes of staple maize was imported from the neighbouring country in the period, which was 47,610 tonnes more than what was bought in the whole of 2017 and 2016.
Uganda accounted for 70.36 per cent of the nearly 419,548 tonnes of maize, an equivalent of about 4.66 million 90-kilo bags, which was was shipped into Kenya in that period.
The rest of the maize was bought from Zambia (64,800 tonnes), Tanzania (56,245 tonnes), Mozambique (3,300 tonnes) and United Arabs Emirates (1.45 tonnes), KRA Commissioner for Customs and Border Control Julius Musyoki said in a report to legislators.
No Mexico maize
There was no maize that was shipped in from Mexico where 584,095 tonnes (6.49 million bags) was bought last year, representing nearly half (44.36 per cent) of the 1.32 million tonnes that was imported to bridge a drought-induced shortage.
The maize imports in the January-May period of the year were valued at nearly Sh8.78 billion, Mr Musyoki told the National Assembly’s departmental committee on Agriculture and Livestock, chaired by chaired by Mandera South MP Adan Haji.
The committee is investigating alleged irregular purchase of maize by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) from traders at the expense of farmers.
Maize from six-nation East African Community such as Uganda and Tanzania is exempted from duty and levies.
Traders buying from Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) countries such as Zambia and Mozambique are only subjected to Import Declaration fee (IDF) and Railway Development Levy (RDL) charged at two per cent and 1.5 per cent, respectively, of their total value.
Maize shipments from non-EAC and Comesa countries attract 50 per cent import duty.
“Shipments of duty-free yellow and white maize must be accompanied by a certificate of conformity issued by a company appointed by the Kenya Bureau of Standards,” Mr Musyoki says in the report.