The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives has intercepted 39 lorries importing toxic maize from Uganda as it dispels fears over looming maize shortage.
According to the ministry officials, intensive surveillance and tests have revealed that imported grain from Uganda and Tanzania contain high levels of myotoxins particularly aflatoxins and fumonisins which are carcinogenic.
“Following the Government directive on stoppage of maize transfers from EAC partner countries, unscrupulous businessmen have tried to sneak in maize through non- gazetted border points. The law enforcement agencies have so far, napped 39 lorries ferrying maize from Uganda,” said the ministry.
Similarly, the government has introduced measures that the ministry says are aimed at ensuring all food imports from the East African Community (EAC) conform to safety standards in order to protect consumers.
All dealers of food crops including importers, transporters and processors are required to register online with the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) before importing any food crop from the region.
The applicants will be vetted and approval granted through issuance of a Registration Certificate.
“Successful applicants shall be notified on the need to apply for pre-shipment documents stating the source of produce, purpose and destination including the storage facility where the produce shall be offloaded.”
Importers from EAC countries will also be required to have Certificates of Conformity (CoC) issued by a competent authority in the county of origin processed through the KENTRADE single window system to be verified and approved by the crops inspectors.
The ministry has indicated that the imported foods will also be subjected to random sampling at all border points with rapid testing to confirm that the grain is as per the conformity certificate issued by the exporting country.
“The Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) and DCI are on high alert to deal with any corrupt officers and/or traders at border points who shall engage in corrupt practices in exchange for maize entry approval stamps without inspection and verification.” the ministry said in a statement.
Sufficient maize stock
Following restrictions placed on maize imports from Uganda and Tanzania over high level of aflatoxins, the Agriculture ministry has dismissed concerns by Cereal Millers Association (CMA) that the move is likely to lead to shortage and price increases.
“The Ministry further wishes to avert fear over alleged shortage of maize in the country. Projections up to the end of May 2021 indicate a surplus of 11,807,681 90kg bags, with the price of maize expected to remain stable.”
According to the government, the wholesale maize price averages Kshs. 2,600 per 90kg bag, with the highest prices of up to Kshs. 4,392 reported in Garissa County and the lowest prices of Kshs. 1,980 in Laikipia County.