The volume of Kenya’s maize imports from Uganda and Tanzania dropped 73 percent in March, hurt by stringent measures imposed by Nairobi to curb shipments of crop contaminated with the cancer-causing aflatoxin.
Data by the Agriculture ministry indicates that the imports from Uganda dropped from 637,489 bags of 90-kg each in February to 146,707 in March.
“The decrease is attributed to Kenya’s policy change on increased surveillance and restriction of importation of high-level aflatoxin,” said the ministry.
Last month Agriculture secretary Peter Munya said the traders did meet the conditions to export maize to Kenya.
Until the measures were put in place in early March, imports from these countries were on an upward trend.
For instance, the volume coming in from the borders were 97,000 bags last November, 101,000 in January and 637,000 in February this year.
The decline in imports from Uganda has had a ripple effect with the price of flour rising above Sh100 for a two-kilo packet as the market responds to a shortage of grain that has seen a 90-kilo bag rise to Sh2,700 from Sh2,300 previously.
The price of flour had dropped to below Sh100 in January and held at the same point as late as three weeks ago, driven by a relatively low cost of maize and suppressed demand.
A two-kilogramme packet of major brands in retail chains have gone up to Sh102 for Jogoo brand from Sh99 last week, Soko is up to retails at Sh105 from Sh97, Pembe is selling at Sh106 from Sh99, with Mama going at Sh98 from Sh93 previously.
Traders importing maize from Uganda to Kenya are supposed to have a certificate of origin from the exporting countries before they get clearance at the border points.
The government also wants traders to have a certificate of conformity indicating that the aflatoxin levels comply with the maximum required levels of 10 parts per billion, which are the standards that Kenya adheres to.