Millers have attributed the shortage of the maize subsidy programme hold-up by supermarkets to clear payments for goods received.
The retail outlets are normally given more than a month to pay for supplies but millers have insisted on instant payments for the subsidy maize flour – many supermarkets choosing not to stock the product.
The chairman of the Grain Belt Millers Association, Kipng’etich Mutai, noted that the 45-day credit period ought to be decreased in order to enhance cash flow in the value chain.He noted if resolved, the move would ensure a steady supply of the subsidized 2 kg packet of maize flour which was set at Ksh100 by the government.
“The 45-day credit period by supermarkets needs to be reduced to facilitate cash flow to enable millers to purchase more maize and increase crushing capacity to support a steady flow of the low-cost flour,” he stated.
Mutai noted that maize supply in the various parts of Western Kenya had increased due to cheap imports from Tanzania and Zambia.
“We are currently receiving maize from Narok, Bomet and other parts of South Rift. The harvest of the crop in Nyanza and former Western Province has boosted our operations,” he stated.
Agriculture Principal Secretary Francis Owino also affirmed that Ksh160.9 million had been set aside to settle the Ksh325 million invoice from millers.
He added that this would move to mitigate the shortage that has been experienced across the country.
Currently, about 3.2 million kilos of maize flour have been supplied to the market under the subsidy programme.
A trader residing in Eldoret exuded confidence that the harvest would lead to a further decline in maize prices.
“The maize prices are expected to decline further due to harvest of alternative food crops and the impending harvest of the crop in parts of the region,” the trader opined.
On August 5, the Cereal Millers Association (CMA) pointed out the problem of panic buying among Kenyans ahead of the Tuesday, August 9 poll. This led to a severe shortage of the 2kg pack of maize flour.
“This surge in demand is a result of consumers enjoying the benefits of subsidized Ksh100 prices by buying above-average stocks. Consumers are stocking up ahead of August 9, General Election,” read part of the statement.