KENYA –The Government of Kenya is set to release 3 million bags of maize worth US$69 million to maize millers in the country aimed at easing shortage that has spiked maize and flour prices.

Zakayo Magara, acting managing director of the National and Cereals Board (NCPB) said, the millers would receive the grain in tranches to enable the government tomonitor flour prices in the market.

“We shall release the grain in three tranches of 40:40:30 per cent as we monitor the situation in the market, we don’t want to release the entire stocks at once,” he said.

Millers will be issued the maize based on their installed capacity, which will see large-scale millers operating under the Cereal Millers Association get 1.1 million bags.

Small-scale millers under United Millers Association will receive 674,000 bags with rest getting the balance, reports Business Daily.

Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture also agreed with the animal feed manufacturers that it would issue them the consignment of grade-four maize held at different depots.

The animal feed manufacturers are also set to receive 300,000 bags of maize from the Strategic Food Reserve recently to ease and control the soaring prices of feeds that have hit a three-year high.

The NCPB said grade one maize would, however, not be sold to the millers but instead it would be given to schools and other government institutions.

The State is releasing maize at US$23 (Sh2,300) for a bag 90 kg bag against the current market price of US$43 (Sh4,300).

The government has also unveiled plans of opening duty free maize imports from July to plug the grain shortage that has seen the price of flour rise 30 percent in one month.

During a recent meeting with millers, the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Mwangi Kiunjuri, noted that strategies are in place, including waving of a 50 percent duty imposed on imported grain from outside East Africa Community (EAC) region, to ensure efficient importation

Mr Kiunjuri, however noted that the importation of both yellow and white maize will be opened once the current stocks are exhausted.

“We are watching the situation closely to ensure that proper mechanism for importation are put in place to avoid being caught unawares in the last minute,” Mr Kiunjuri said, adding only registered large scale millers will be allowed to import maize.