AFA accuses maize millers of engineering artificial grain shortage

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Economy

AFA accuses maize millers of engineering artificial grain shortage


maize

A customer buys maize from Uganda at a market near the Busia border. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) has accused millers and traders of claiming an artificial maize shortage in the country to armtwist the State agency to lift importation ban.
  • AFA imposed the maize importation ban for grains from Tanzania and Uganda on March 5 claiming most of the grains from the two market were infected with aflatoxin. The ban escalated the bilateral trade standoff between Kenya and Tanzania.

The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) has accused millers and traders of claiming an artificial maize shortage in the country to armtwist the State agency to lift importation ban.

AFA imposed the maize importation ban for grains from Tanzania and Uganda on March 5 claiming most of the grains from the two market were infected with aflatoxin. The ban escalated the bilateral trade standoff between Kenya and Tanzania.

Currently, several Kenyans trucks loaded with more than 300 bags of maize grains each are held at Namanga border to the chagrin of traders.

In a crisis meeting held on Wednesday at Namanga custom offices between AFA officers,Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officers,traders and other stakeholders under East Africa Business council(EABC),AFA head of crop inspectorate Mr Calistus Efukho reiterated government commitment to ensure aflatoxin free cereal importation.

Mr Efukho said all maize traders must be registered and issued with certificate of conformity and certificate of origin to safe guard Kenyans from contaminated cereals. He said Tanzania are unable to get the certificate of conformity because they collect their grains from small scale farmers hampering AFA efforts to trace maize flour to the source.

“We would like to assure Kenyans that the country is not facing a maize shortage that can push up maize prices as purported by few millers and traders. Earlier collected samples at border entries indicated the cereals contained aflatoxin,”said Mr Efukho.

He also downplayed reports that the Authority was interfering with free trade within East Africa member states in favour of importing maize from non member countries.

“Kenyan has not imported maize this year and there is no such plan. We have enough maize grains in South Rift that can ensure Kenyans their staple food (ugali) up to June 2021.Our ban is not about business but about kenyans health,” he added.

He said talks are underway to determine the fate of maize consignment held at border point.

However,Kenya international freight and warehousing Association want the government to compensate Kenyans traders who continue to incur losses as their maize consignment continue to be held at Namanga.



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