Kenyan Government launches Ksh8b National maize flour subsidy programme

KENYA— The Kenyan Government has released Ksh 8 billion in order to finance a 4-week National maize flour subsidy programme.

The Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture in cooperation with the Union of Flour Traders has enacted the temporary reduction in the prices of maize flour products, which has more than halved the price of maize flour for consumers.

Under the decree, the minimum retail price for a two-kilogramme packet of maize flour would drop from Ksh230 to Ksh100 and a 1-Kilogramme packet would retail for not more than Ksh52 while the 500-gram packet would retail for a maximum of Ksh30.

The measure aims to deal with the rising cost of living that has seen prices of basic commodities such as maize flour soar.  The government blamed the price hike on the shortage of maize to disruptions in the supply chain both locally and in the region.

To date 3.2 million kilograms of Unga have been supplied to the market and this is expected to increase this week.

Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-operatives Principal Secretary (PS) Dr. Francis Owino said that a total of 129 millers, both large and medium scale have been enlisted to participate in the programme for an initial four weeks, effective 22nd July 2022.

He explained that to date 3.2 million kilograms of Unga have been supplied to the market and this is expected to increase this week.

“The millers have since commenced milling and servicing the markets with the subsidized sifted maize flour. We have been implementing an elaborate system of operationalization of the programme to ensure that the Mwananchi gets the Unga at the desired price,” said Dr. Owino.

Given the subsidy programme is scheduled to end in August 20, 2022, bringing uncertainty to the direction prices will take after, Munya said expected long rain should help ease prices.

“It is anticipated that the situation should stabilize after the early harvest of the long rains season hits the market. We are monitoring production, and we expect that the maize deficit will ease after the end of August 2022, and the maize flour prices will begin to come down,” he said.

Additionally, Kenya is expected to witness increased maize imports following maize millers’ exemption from paying Railway Development Levy and Import Declaration Fee.

However, two weeks after roll out, the subsidy programme seems to have run into headwinds as retailers have raised concerns over a shortage in supply of the Sh100 flour. Supermarkets have gone without the subsidy flour for the last couple of days on the back of supply hitches, which had earlier been blamed on panic buying.

Munya has urged citizens to only buy enough, explaining that as long as imports continue to flow into the country, and the long rains seasonal production hits the market, there will still be enough in the market from end of August 2022.

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