East Africa’s grain traders have started buying maize from Uganda at about half the international price, after a bounty harvest in the country.
Uganda has sold about 38,000 tonnes of maize worth US$15.2m to its regional neighbours in the past one month, with around 30,500 tonnes, going to Kenya, reported East African.
According to the source, the Kenyan traders have taken advantage of the low prices in Uganda’s Tororo, Gulu, Masindi and Lira regions to ship in the product for US$180 (Shs648,000) per tonne. In Kenyan market, a tonne is going for as high as US$430 (Shs1.5m), said the source.
Rwanda, through its Gatuna and Cyanika border points imported 5,405 tonnes of the produce from Uganda in the same period, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which brought in 1,105 tonnes through the Rusizi, Mpondwe and Rubavu border points. Kenya aims to ramp up its maize reserves, which ran out mid this year forcing the government to import more than 200,000 tonnes from Brazil.
Poor maize harvests hit Kenya
Kenya is staring at a food shortage following declined maize and wheat production in the North Rift region – the country’s grain basket this season caused by disease outbreaks and erratic weather.
The Agriculture ministry estimates a 20 per cent drop in maize yields – 32 million 90 kilogramme bags down from 37.1 million bags – setting the stage for acute shortage of the commodity this year.
Maize production in Uasin Gishu County dropped by 25 per cent from 4.4 million to 3.7 million bags in 2017 due to an outbreak of the fall armyworm, head smut disease and sustained drought during planting period. Similarly, wheat yields plummeted to 430,000 bags from 466,000 bags in 2016 with agriculture experts warning of possible starvation.