Tough times ahead for Kenyans as the price of maize flour is expected to rise across the country following the maize shortage caused by hoarding of the product by farmers.
United Trade Millers Association Vice Chairman Ken Nyaga on Monday said that the Unga prices are set to rise from Ksh. 75 to Ksh. 100 per 2 kilograms bag. According to Mr. Nyaga, farmers have refused to sell their maize since the government promised to buy the produce at a higher price of Ksh.3,000 per 90 kilograms bag.
“It is the high time the government came up with proper ways to streamline the maize industry. We are between a rock and a hard place. There is no maize available from the farmers. We cannot sustain the current market of Ksh. 75 per 2kg packet,” said Mr. Nyaga.
The vice United Trade Millers Association accused farmers of refusing to sell their maize after the government promised to buy the maize at Ksh. 3,000 per 90kgs bag. According to him, the farmers do not want to sell a 90kg bag at Ksh. 2,300.
The hike in maize flour prices comes only a month after Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Mwangi Kiunjuri directed millers to reduce the price of a 2 kg packet of maize flour to Ksh. 75 saying that any trader selling flour for more than Ksh. 75 would be arrested for exploiting customers.
The millers had threatened to increase the price of the flour citing that the increase on the fuel tax would affect the price of the commodity. However, the CS said that the excuse that 8% tax on fuel is driving up the cost of maize flour does not hold water given VAT on milling is zero rated.
“It is therefore disappointing and unfortunate that this benefit is not being passed to the consumers. The position of the government is that the a 2kg unga should not retail at more than Sh75,” said Kiunjuri.
Why it is that millers and traders are quick to adjust the price upwards and not downwards when the cost of maize comes down?