Maize ban from Uganda has hardened life for residents of Pokot North

Impounded maize truck
Impounded maize truck

The ban on maize importation from East African counties has affected  Pokot North sub county residents in West Pokot county as the area usually experience drought season throughout the year.

Pokot North is a drought prone area bothering Uganda and thus many residents buy maize from the neighboring country which sustains them throughout the year.

The locals have pleaded with the national government to supply them with relief food so as to feed their extended families.

They said the rainy season this year has delayed in the semi arid area and thereore the ban on importation of maize has affected them negatively.

One of the residents Wilson Koringura said most of the locals from Kacheliba borders Uganda and traders from both Kenya and Uganda have been doing business to beat hard economic times.

“We get maize supply from Uganda and most of the Pokot communities live in Uganda and have farms there where they cultivate maize and sell it to some of the locals.” He said.

He added that a custom duty should be opened immediately in order to curb illegal goods from being sneaked to the country rather than imposing a ban and subjecting the whole community to food shortage.

He said the sub county usually depends on their neighbors for food, goods and other services and thus the maize importation ban has resulted to food shortage.

He added that the border post will help the country get revenue since the Uganda border has its revenue collection point unlike on the Kenya side where there are no revenue offices to collect revenue.

He noted that they have been getting food surplus from Uganda and now the late rains is now worrying most of the locals.

Koringura asked the government to give a timeline when they will uplift the ban and also agriculture officers should be put at the border to inspect the maize if it’s fit for human consumption as an interim solution.

He noted that the area has not received relief food for long and the drought period has affected hundreds of locals.

“The supply of relief food to hunger stricken families was cut off last year.  This year we haven’t received any from humanitarian organizations,” he added.

Kacheliba MP Mark Lomunokol said Uganda is Kenyans biggest partner in business and most of the locals depend on Uganda for affordable commodities.

“The two countries depend on each other Kacheliba constituency is a semi arid area all food stocks which we had has depleted,” he said.

He noted that most of the people lack water and pasture and have been forced to move to the neighboring country to feed their animals.

Samson Akoule said going to Uganda was just a walk through way as they get cheap commodities from the Ugandan market but the ban on importation of maize is now a problem.

“I was born along the border but when I compare the prices of commodities in Uganda is cheaper for instance a kilo of maize flour in Uganda goes at Kshs 40 while in Kenya it goes at Kshs 60, “ he argued

He noted that they buy a litre of petrol in Uganda at Kshs 110 while in Kenya they get it at Kshs 130 and thus they prefer crossing over the border to Ugandan market to buy products.

Titus Lopurian a business man in Makutano town said Kenya taxes are high compared to Uganda pushing locals to hard economic times as they strain to put food on the table.

“Especially during this Covid-19 period people are suffering because they don’t have food, the government should consider local mwanachi by even supplying food to them, ” he urged.