Ships with yellow maize stuck in port as congestion persists

Monday June 12 2017

Nyeri residents queue to buy Sh90 flour at Samrat supermarket in Nyeri moment after it arrived in the town on Friday. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Nyeri residents queue to buy Sh90 flour at Samrat supermarket in Nyeri moment after it arrived in the town on Friday. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

By GERALD ANDAE
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Two ships with the first consignment of Ukranian yellow maize for manufacturing animal feed are stuck at the port of Mombasa due to congestion two weeks since they docked.

About six millers have imported 74,150 tonnes of yellow maize and say the management of the port has communicated that the earliest they can offload is next week even as the cost of the commodity skyrockets. 

The Association of Kenya Feeds Manufacturers (Akefema) has complained over the delay, saying it has pushed the price of feeds beyond the reach of many farmers.

A 70-kilogramme bag of layers mash is currently trading at an average Sh3,200 up from Sh2,800 in April while the same quantity of dairy meal is retailing at Sh2,300 from Sh2,000 two months ago.

The cheap imports were meant to ease pressure on expensive and scarce white maize that has seen the cost of animal feeds skyrocket in recent months.

“The delay is worsening the situation in the market as the cost of animal feeds continue to rise. The ships docked at the Port of Mombasa two weeks ago but the consignment is yet to be offloaded,” said John Gathogo, publicity and marketing chairman at Akefema.

Last week, a vessel carrying 445,000 bags of cheap Mexican grain failed to dock at the Mombasa port due to congestion.

The vessel, MV Ionic Smyrnt, was expected to dock on Sunday May 30 but had to be delayed on the international waters to berth at Grain Bulk Handling Ltd (GBHL) facility at the port.

However, the manufacturers reported one ship may have offloaded late Friday. Animal feed manufacturers are operating at half capacity, a situation that has seen some of their employees sent home for lack of raw material to process.

Millers have been banking on the yellow maize whose importation government cleared. It has taken long to get to the country since the duty was only waived three months ago.

The government ordered the importation of yellow maize to ease the pressure on the white produce. Animal feed is normally made from the white produce, a move that has worsened the current food situation in the country.

Research findings by Tegemeo Institute of Research indicated that Kenya produces enough maize to feed the population based on estimated per capita consumption but other uses like seed, feeds manufacturing reduce supply to humans.