Kenya now ex­ports maize to Uganda

After re­cent har­vests, busi­nesses have turned to re­gional mar­kets

The East African - - BUSINESS - By MARYANNE GICOBI The Eastafrican

Kenya has now started sell­ing maize to Uganda, as of­fi­cial data shows that grain from Tan­za­nia is still go­ing into Kenya.

The Re­gional Agri­cul­ture Trade In­tel­li­gence Net­work (Ratin) re­port shows that Kenya ex­ported more than 42 tonnes of maize to Uganda through the Bu­sia bor­der this past week.

Grain prices in Kenya fell after the end of a long dry spell. Many parts of the coun­try have har­vested their crop, with busi­nesses now turn­ing to re­gional mar­kets for higher profit mar­gins.

This past week, a 90kg bag of maize dropped from $41.98 to $36.73 in Kenya, while in Uganda it in­creased from $27.46 to $27.86 and in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly in Rwanda from $24.2 to $40.42.

Uganda also in­creased its ex­ports of maize to Rwanda to 1,116.5 tonnes in the past two weeks, and to 1,263 tonnes to Kenya in the same pe­riod.

Ac­cord­ing to the Rwanda Grains and Ce­re­als Cor­po­ra­tion, even with a good har­vest in May, which came after a pro­longed drought, grain sup­plies have con­tin­ued to tighten in the lo­cal mar­ket and pushed up prices of maize.

Traders and millers have at­trib­uted the in­crease of prices to var­i­ous rea­sons, in­clud­ing disease and drought that led to poor maize har­vest and even­tual short­ages.

De­spite a ban on ex­por­ta­tion of maize to Kenya from Tan­za­nia, 130 tonnes of maize was sold through the Ise­ba­nia bor­der.

In June 2016, Tan­za­nia’s Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Fish­eries Charles Tizeba banned maize grain ex­ports in an ef­fort to curb prac­tices that jeop­ar­dised food se­cu­rity — such as pre-har­vest sale of pro­duce — and en­cour­age value ad­di­tion and pro­mote the ex­por­ta­tion of flour.

Kenya re­sorted to get­ting maize from Zam­bia; Lusaka ne­go­ti­ated with Tan­za­nia to al­low pas­sage of the grain through the coun­try, with a spe­cial lane to fa­cil­i­tate faster clear­ance and trans­porta­tion to Kenya.

Ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis by the Food Se­cu­rity and Nu­tri­tion Work­ing Group, maize ex­ports from Tan­za­nia also in­creased in the in­for­mal mar­ket, The ban on maize ex­ports to Kenya by Tan­za­nia has led to the grain be­ing the most dom­i­nant com­mod­ity traded on the un­of­fi­cial mar­ket be­tween the two coun­tries.

Ex­ports from Tan­za­nia to Kenya in the sec­ond quar­ter in­creased by 4,300 tonnes — a 17 per cent in­crease — com­pared with the same pe­riod last year, pri­mar­ily be­cause of high June prices in Kenya.

The re­port said the grain was smug­gled through the Na­manga and Ise­ba­nia bor­ders.

Late last year Tan­za­nia said it had an ex­cess of three mil­lion tonnes of ce­re­als, and that it ex­ported al­most half of that to neighbouring coun­tries with the re­main­der stored in its strate­gic re­serves

In the past few months, Kenya was hit by a se­vere maize short­age lead­ing to a sub­se­quent rise in the price of flour. The coun­try im­ported 30,000 tonnes of maize from Mex­ico, via South Africa, in an ef­fort to re­duce the price of maize flour, which had reached a high of $1.8 for a 2kg pack.

Due to the high de­mand at the time, con­sumers were lim­ited to buy­ing just two 2kg packs of maize flour at re­tail out­lets.

With the cur­rent in­crease of maize sup­ply, the gov­ern­ment an­nounced plans to end the sub­sidy pro­gramme, al­low­ing mar­ket forces to dic­tate the price of flour.

Kenya’s maize pro­duc­tion vol­umes fell from a high of 3.6 mil­lion tonnes in 2012 to 1.83 mil­lion tonnes last year, mostly due to in­suf­fi­cient rain­fall.

Bu­jum­bura re­mains the re­gion’s most ex­pen­sive mar­ket for maize, trad­ing at $63.80 for a 90kg bag, data from Ratin shows.

More than 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple in Bu­rundi are in dire need of food as­sis­tance, ac­cord­ing to the a re­port by the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Kenya ex­ported more than 42 tonnes of maize to Uganda through the Bu­sia bor­der this past week.” Ratin re­port

Pic­ture: File

Maize is off­loaded from a truck in Nairobi. After a short­age earlier this year, Kenya has now started ex­port­ing maize to Uganda.

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