Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett has said that the drought that hit the whole East African region was the major cause that led to maize shortage and the subsequent strain in flour prices, adding that it affected at least 80 percent of production. While addressing the Agriculture Committee in parliament, the CS said this meant the country couldn’t get maize from neighbouring countries, “Our normal cross-border trade couldn’t take place. The flow of maize from Uganda couldn’t come to Kenya, but went to South Sudan to cater for the humanitarian problem in that nation,” said Bett.
However, he said that the government wanted to exhaust the availability of grain in the country as a result before opting for importation, “Our survey had indicated that some large-scale farmers and traders were still holding some grain,” he said, adding that when they intervened the millers noted positive progress in the supply, but still the traders would take advantage and halt the process even after noting the volatile situation, and the price would shoot again.
Concerning the maize importation, CS Willy Bett reiterated that the government didn’t import the maize, but opened importation for the private sector, “Because of the high demand even the imported grain would still sell at a high price locally,” he said, citing that is the main reason why the government had to step in again to subsidize so that the flour could be availed to Kenyans at a good price.