Deputy President William Ruto has accused millers of creating a false maize shortage as an excuse for raising flour prices, thereby putting a strain on families.
Speaking on Friday in Kirinyaga County after opening a tea factory in Gichugu, Mr Ruto warned millers to stop acting like cartels, saying the National Cereals and Produce Board stores have 10 million bags of maize and that it is enough to feed the country.
On Thursday, a millers’ lobby said its members had reduced production to 39 per cent of capacity as a maize shortage intensifies, pushing up the unit cost of production.
The chairman of the Cereal Millers Association, Nick Hutchinson, said maize supply had remained unstable, causing flour prices to go up by about Sh15 in the past three months.
Mr Hutchinson said members who currently hold just 500,000 bags, enough to last just seven days, are banking on the new harvest from Tanzania.
REMOVING LEVIES ON FARM INPUTS
Before visiting Kirinyaga County, the deputy president visited Nyeri County, where he assured farmers that the government would remove levies on agricultural inputs and provide subsidies to boost agribusiness and revive the hurting coffee and tea sectors.
Mr Ruto was in Nyeri to condole with the family of Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, who lost his mother, Hannah Wanjiru.
The deputy president told residents that the government would focus on diversifying agriculture in the region as a means to strengthen the sector in this financial year. He also promised that the government would put up irrigation schemes in the region.
“It is encouraging to see that agriculture in Nyeri is diversifying and even adopting fish farming. This is what we want to see and the government will provide the necessary support to farmers in the next budget,” Mr Ruto added.
Farmers in the region who dependent mainly on coffee and tea welcomed the news following continuous disappointment in the business.
Mr Ruto proceeded to Kirinyaga, where he was expected to commission a tea factory before heading to Kutus.
(Editing by Joel Muinde and Henry Gekonde)