Kenya raises concerns on safety of maize imported from Tanzania, Uganda

KENYA – Kenya has with immediate effect banned the importation of maize from Tanzania and Uganda citing safety health concerns.

This comes after the Kenya Agriculture and Food Authority under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives undertook a study on produce from the two neighbouring countries, which revealed that the maize contained high levels of mycotoxins beyond safety levels.

“The Authority has been conducting surveillance on the safety of food imports to Kenya. Test results for maize imported from Uganda and Tanzania have revealed high levels of mycotoxins that are consistently beyond safety limits.

“We wish to bring to your attention that the Agriculture & Food Authority has stopped any further imports of the maize into Kenya with immediate effect,” said Acting Director-General of the Agriculture and Food Authority, Kello Harsama in a letter.

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The letter further indicated that the tests particularly showed high levels of aflatoxins and fumonisins, known to be carcinogenic.

Harsana said that over the years, a number of acute and chronic aflatoxin-related illness cases have been recorded in Kenya including deaths.

“The Republic of Kenya is however committed to facilitating safe trade with her trading partners and look forward to working closely with all stakeholders to address the concern.”

Agriculture and Food Authority

According to the Kenyan body charged with regulating, developing and promoting scheduled crops, the importation of the crop has been stopped with immediate effect as they work on seeing the way forward with the two countries.

“The Republic of Kenya is however committed to facilitating safe trade with her trading partners and look forward to working closely with all stakeholders to address the concern,” the letter read in part.

The recent ban, adds to the list of exports restricted from Uganda, which will make the land-locked country lose an average of US$121m (Ush 447b) in annual revenue, according to data from Bank of Uganda.

Uganda exports at least 90 per cent of its maize to Kenya with a cumulative average of 330,620 tonnes, reports Daily Monitor.

For instance, between January 2020 and January 2021, Uganda’s maize exports stood at 351,420 tonnes with a monthly average of 50,203 tonnes.

Of the US$121m export earnings, US$99.5m came from Kenya while the rest was realised from South Sudan and eastern DR Congo, among others.

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The ban comes months after maize imports from Uganda into Kenya rose five-fold in January compared to a similar period last year as traders and millers rushed to bring in the grain in anticipation of a shortage, indicated Business Daily in a recent report.

Data from Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture highlighted that the volume of maize brought into Kenya went up to 523,000 bags during the review period from 101,000 in January 2020, an increase of 418 percent.

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