Kenyans have been warned of an impending hike in maize flour prices with farmers and brokers accused of hoarding the commodity.
The farmers have been accused of taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to hoard maize in anticipation of government announcing a higher maize buying price.
Cereals Miller’s Association CEO Paloma Fernandes noted that hoarding will ultimately reflect on the buying price of maize flour.
“What happens in the market if the market price is about maybe Ksh 2,800, the Government will come one day and say Ksh. 3,400 for our farmers immediately there is a price hike.
“One of the things that we have noticed during the Covid situation was that some of the farmers and brokers were actually hoarding some of the produce thinking that the government will get involved directly and start procuring from them, the speculation caused scarcity in the market and the price fluctuated,” she noted.
The Government gave Miller’s the green light to import maize from Mexico and South Africa to fill the shortage and cushion consumers from the price hike.
Millers also took issue with the Government’s decision to close down milling companies due to aflatoxin contamination instead of encouraging regulatory bodies to constantly monitor the whole cereal value chain to reduce incidences of contamination.
Fernandes also called for the rules of fortification and aflatoxins to apply across board with commercial millers being the most affected.
“It does not mean that a commercial miller who is just more noticeable is the one who will get tested and rules of fortification and aflatoxin only apply to aflatoxin.
“It needs to apply across the board whether its the posho millers or that small five-tonne miller. Everybody needs to follow the food safety regulation,” explained Fernandes.
The CEO added that blacklisting of milling factories is seeing some of association’s members suffer heavy losses and potential investors shy away from the Kenyan market.