KENYA – Kenya has entered into an agreement with Tanzania for the purchase of one million metric tonnes of maize and flour to help the country bridge a shortfall of the commodity.

Government officials from the two East African countries had met in Tanzania which saw Kenya successfully secure the supply deal.

“We have generally agreed to supply them with one million tons of maize flour and grains throughout a year to help them end the prevailing food shortage,” Hussein Bashe, Tanzania’s deputy minister of agriculture told Reuters.

Mr Bashe added that the amount will be supplied in a period of 12 months and will also include export of rice.

The Deputy Minister said they agreed that 20,000 metric tonnes would be supplied to Kenya immediately from the National Food Reserve Agency (N FRA) and the focal point would be the Cereals and Other Produce Board of Tanzania.

A technical team from Kenya would meet their counterparts in Tanzania next week to come up with a framework of agreement for supply of food crop to Kenya.

The team would involve officials from Kenya Bureau of Statistics (KEBS), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Department of Food and Plant Health Services and Millers Association as well as NFRA, the Cereals and Other Produce Board of Tanzania among others.

According to Mr Bashe, the food items to be supplied under the agreement would be obtained from both the N FRA and the private sector.

The government of Kenya has indicated urgency in allowing imports, with the shortfall of 4.3 million bags against a 4.2 million bag consumption demand per month.

The Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri recently said that the government plans to import mainly from the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) countries.

According to the East Africa Grain Council, Ethiopia and Zambia will also be the key beneficiaries if Kenya open the imports window and limit imports from within COMESA.

Ethiopia in particular has emerged as a top maize exporter in the wider eastern Africa region owing to a steady increase in its production capacity. In 2017, the country exported 240,000 tonnes into Kenya.