Opportunities are opening up in Kenya for Ugandan maize traders following the ongoing civil unrest in South Sudan. Uganda has been selling nearly all its maize stocks to Juba since the inception of Africa’s newest state in 2011.
As of Monday, more than 2,000 tonnes of Uganda maize had crossed into Kenya through official customs points.
One tonne of maize is currently retailing at $500 (about Shs1.2m) in Juba compared to $400 (about Shs980,800) in Nairobi, according to the Regional Agricultural Trade Intelligence Network (Ratin).
“The current political standoff in South Sudan has interfered with the cross-border trade and most of the stock that heads to that nation is finding its way to Kenya,” said East African Grain Council CEO Gerald Masila.
Kenya Cereal Millers Association chairman Diamond Lalji said the stocks had supplemented supplies at a time when farmers were hoarding their produce in anticipation of better prices. “We have exhausted all the maize that we had stocked and the little that we are getting from farmers is supplemented by what we are receiving currently from Uganda and Tanzania,” said Mr Lalji.
A maize shortage of about 10 million bags is forecast just before the next harvest despite Kenya government officials insisting there is enough of the staple.
Kenyan farmers are holding their produce from the market in anticipation of higher prices in June and July. Mr Lalji said the stocks coming from Uganda were from last year’s harvest and could drop substantially from next month. He urged the government to review the 50 per cent duty imposed on imports.
“No trader will be willing to be charged 50 per cent duty on imports. The ministry of Agriculture should move in with speed to waive the duty in time before it is late,” he said. In the Eldoret depot, the supply of maize has gone down, with the area silos manager Geoffrey Rotich noting that they have received 160,000 bags of maize against the normal 250,000 to 300,000 bags.
There are fears of a food supply shortage from May when current stocks are expected to run out.