KENYA – Grain millers in Kenya have opposed the government’s proposal to blend maize flour with other local grains in an effort to ease overreliance of maize, reports the Daily Nation.

According to Munir Thabit, chief executive at Grain Industries Limited, the government’s blending policy, which aims at promoting use of sorghum, millet and cassava, is untimely and should allow for more consultations with all stakeholders before it is implementation.

Mr Thabit cited that if the proposal sees the light, millers would in an untimely situation be forced to incur extra investments costs in upgrading their mills and ramps.

“Though it has a lot of nutritious advantages, the millers will suffer as majority do not have the capacity to install such grinders to blend the elements to the required standards.

“All millers need to change their facilities and we need time to do so,” he said adding that installing such equipment would take more than 12 months since most of grinders are imported as well as bureaucracy in the procurement process.

Millers in the country also highlighted that the overall impact will come at the expense of consumers, should the policy come to effect.

“The price of maize flour will automatic go up since very few millers will be able to import sorghum and millet. We have statistics which indicates such local nutritious grains are not produced in the country in bulky,” said Mr Thabit.

“Small millers will have to close down as most of them do not have no capacity to import such mixers which will give them best quality,” he added.

The maize flour blending policy, which was drafted last year, also suggest that wheat flour sold should have 10% minimum content of the underutilised but high nutrient crops like sorghum, cassava and sweet potatoes.

The policy developed six standards requiring that maize flour be blended with cassava, millet and sorghum while wheat flour be blended with sorghum, cassava, and sweet potatoes.

This was in line with 2012 World Declaration on nutrition which Kenya endorsed by passing food fortification legislation, meant to reduce prevalence of vitamin and minerals deficiencies.

However, importation expenses was also cited as a major challenge in which millers urged the government to offer subsidies to farmers in order to encourage local production.

Kenya produces less than 500,000 tonnes of wheat against consumption of over one million tonnes compelling 80 percent of millers to import wheat mainly from Ukraine, Argentina and United States to plug the deficit.