Cash crunch hits release of cheap maize to millers
Thursday, May 16, 2019 21:50
By GERALD ANDAE
The release of more than two million bags of cheap maize from the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to tame rising flour prices has been delayed due to a lack of cash for moving the grains from the silos.
Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur says the NCPB was ready to release the grain but inadequate funds that are required for offloading from stores and pay labourers who will be involved in the exercise had hampered the move.
The NCPB is meant to release more than two million bags of maize to millers in a bid to check the rising cost of flour that has so far hit Sh121 for a two-kilo packet from Sh90 in February.
“The NCPB is ready to release maize from the stores but the only challenge has been logistics, which we are currently addressing,” said Dr Tuimur, adding that the agency had requested for Sh50 million for the movement of the grain from the silos.
The government agreed with millers two weeks ago to release at least three million bags of maize from the Strategic Food Reserve at Sh2,300 a 90-kilogramme bag to curb the rising cost of flour.
This is aimed at increasing the supply of grain in the market, which has been dwindling in the last couple of weeks forcing the price to rise from Sh2,300 in February to Sh3,400 for the 90-kg bag at the moment.
However, the prices have dropped with millers paying Sh3,000 a bag of maize down from Sh3,400 last month with the prices expected to drop further as farmers release the stocks that they had been hoarding following the announcement that the NCPB would be selling more than two million bags to processors.
The NCPB will also release 300,000 bags of maize to animal feeds manufacturers to contain high cost of the prices being witnessed currently.
Tanzania has announced that it has more than a million tonnes of maize surplus, which it will sell to the regional states, unlike previously when it imposed a ban on exports, coming as a boost to Kenya.