Kenya, which majorly relies on maize grain for its food supply, is facing a dilemma as its neighbours put more restriction on the flow of this product.
Recent media reports quoted Frank Tumwebaze, Uganda’s agriculture minister as saying the Government is considering only allowing the exportation of maize flour instead of maize grain, a request that was fronted by local farmers and processors.
“Farmers and millers are of the view that this would bring in more value and also make animal feeds available and cheaper,” he said, adding that government would go ahead and study the impact of such a ban.
Stakeholders’ argument was that a ban on the export of maize grain would lead to retention of husks used for the manufacture of animal feeds, thus making it cheaper and accessible.
Countries in East Africa have been competing for the limited maize stock for consumption and production of animal feeds, following disruption of grain supplies from Ukraine and Russia in the wake of the Moscow invasion.
Information from the agriculture ministry show the estimated maize grain output to be 2.5 million tonnes this year, saying Uganda is a major source market for Kenya, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Tanzania has also come up with its set of restrictions which threaten locking out Kenyan grain traders seeking to import maize from Tanzania, in case they are not registered and in possession of export permits.
According to a recent statement from Tanzania’s ministry of agriculture, traders will now be required to register their companies in Dar-es-Salaam.
“We have not stopped the issuance of permits as reported in the media. We have only put in place processes to control the arbitrary export of grains into our country,” reads part of the statement.
Signed by Hussein Bashe, Tanzania’s Agriculture minister, the statement says that Government wants foreign traders to register their companies in Tanzania in order to enjoy better terms and ensure a smoother flow of their commodities across the border.
This move has, however, been interpreted as a deliberate move likely to lead to imposition of a ban by the Tanzania authorities on imports and exports of maize grain due a instability in the market.
Data from the Eastern Africa Grain Council shows imports from Tanzania nearly grew five-fold last year to 469,474 tonnes from 98,000 tonnes in 2020, making it the largest exporter of grain to the country.