Dar/Nairobi — The government said yesterday that it was ready to sell surplus maize to Kenya after the neighbouring country announced that it would open a window for duty-free importation of 12.5 million bags.
Kenya’s Treasury said yesterday that the decision was aimed at bridging a shortfall that has seen retail prices jump to Ksh125 (about Sh2,500) for a two-kilogramme packet of maize flour.
The imports are expected to start at the end of this month and last until the end of October in time for the next harvest, Mr Andrew Tuimur, the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) in Kenya’s Agriculture ministry, said. Responding to the development, Agriculture minister Japhet Hasunga said Tanzania was ready to sell its surplus maize to Kenya.
“Yes, we are ready to grab this opportunity because we have surplus maize. In fact, Kenya has requested us to sell 1.2 million tonnes of maize to them. We have not yet reached an agreement because the request did not come with a price offer,” Mr Hasunga told The Citizen.
He said the government has conducted an evaluation of food security in the country, and concluded that there were more than enough stocks, part of which can be sold outside.
“We want our farmers to enjoy the fruits of their labour. What remains is for Kenya to state its price offer.”
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Mr Hasunga urged members of the business community to grab the opportunity, and promised that the government would do everything possible to assist them.
“Tanzanian businesspeople should not let this opportunity go begging. They only need to follow the laid-down procedures, including securing the required permits and paying the relevant taxes,” he said.
Finance and Planning Minister Philip Mpango told Parliament last month that inflation was at a 40-year low, largely on account of bumper food harvests last season.
A total of 15.9 million tonnes of food crops were harvested last season against the country’s requirement of 13.3 million tonnes.
In Kenya, the government said importation of food will be undertaken by private companies.
Ten million bags out of the 12.5 million earmarked for importation will be white maize for household consumption while 2.5 million will be yellow maize for processing of animal feeds.
“We anticipate to begin importation of maize at the end of this month. As we speak, the country has enough maize stocks to last us a month,” Dr Tuimur told the Senate.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri in April said the country had stocks to last only up to the end of June following poor rains.
Kenya joins seven other countries that may purchase food from Tanzania in the coming months.
Industry and Trade deputy minister Stella Manyanya told Parliament last month that the country has secured markets for rice and maize in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Oman, Egypt, Rwanda, Zambia, the Comoros and Burundi.
She said members of the private sector in Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia and the Comoros had asked Tanzania to supply them with about 208,000 tonnes of rice and maize.