KENYA – The State’s subsidised maize flour programme will continue until there are sufficient stocks of the commodity, the Agriculture ministry has said.

Agriculture secretary Willy Bett said the programme will be extended beyond September as earlier planned because of ongoing heavy rains that have hampered maize harvest in the main breadbasket areas of the North Rift.

Under the subsidy, a two-kilogramme packet retails at Sh90 while the one-kilogramme one sells for Sh47.

“North Rift has experienced a lot of rains in the recent past and this has delayed the prospects of early harvest,” he said.

The new maize stocks from the North Rift region is now expected to enter the market at the end of October.

Sufficient maize

“It is the government’s desire that the subsidy remains until that time when there will be sufficient maize in the market to sustain lower prices,” Mr Bett said in an interview Wednesday.

The country requires an average 36-40 million bags of maize annually to satisfy demand, estimates by the Agriculture ministry showed.

Treasury secretary Henry Rotich last week said ministries, State agencies, the Judiciary and Parliament faced cuts in spending to help raise cash to finance the October 17 repeat presidential election and extend the food subsidy programme.

Independent commissions and the 47 counties would also be affected by the action that will help cover for the unforeseen expenditure that was not factored in the Sh2.29 trillion 2017/18 budget approved by Parliament, the minister further said.

Mr Rotich disclosed that the Treasury had received a request for additional Sh3 billion from the Agriculture ministry towards the extended Sh6.5 billion maize subsidy programme.

Mr Bett however said the government will not extend a duty waiver on maize imports as the current orders are enough to last until the next harvest.

Traders are expected to ship in an estimated eight million bags of maize by the close of the special import window.

Business Daily