George Kebaso and Nicholas Waitathu @PeopleDailyKe
It is now official. A 2kg packet of maize flour (unga) should retail for a maximum of Sh75 across the country, the government announced yesterday.
The directive takes effect immediately and any retailer found selling the commodity for more than the capped price risks getting penalised .
Agriculture Cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said based on current realities in the market, retail prices of maize flour should not sell for more than Sh75.
He said the country is experiencing a bumper harvest of various crops and livestock products due to favourable weather and government interventions including suppling subsidy fertiliser and timely control of the fall armyworm.
“This year the area under maize increased by 11.8 per cent while production increased by 20 per cent, that is from the normal annual production of 34 million to 40 million bags.
“With the favourable weather focused for the upcoming short rains it is projected that six million bags will be produced bringing the total output this year to 46.9 million bags. Given the foregoing Kenyans should and must experience the benefits of good harvest,” said Kiunjuri.
He said a survey conducted by the ministry established some traders were selling the commodity for up to Sh100 while others are selling as low as Sh82.
“Last week I held consultations with Cereal Millers Association and today (yesterday) I have held a meeting with United Grain Millers Association (UGMA) and others and the indications are clear that they are selling a bale of Unga at between Sh700 and Sh800 per bale. This translates to an average wholesale price of Sh65 per 2kg packet.
“It is disappointing and unfortunate that this benefit is not being passed to the consumers. The position of the government is that the 2 kg unga packet should not retail at more than Sh75,”Kiunjuri said when he met UGMA millers at his Kilimo office yesterday.
The recommended price is below the Sh90 government had set last year under the Sh6 billion subsidy programme.
Currently, most retailers are selling a two-kilo packet of the commodity for between Sh85 and Sh100.
However, some unscrupulous traders have taken advantage of levying VAT on petroleum products to sell the product for between Sh95 and Sh100 or more.
“Any trader selling at a higher price than Sh75 is not only exploiting Kenyans but also taking advantage of consumers. Government will not allow traders to exploit consumers and necessary action will be taken much as we appreciate it is a free market,”Kiunjuri warned.
He told UGM officials to follow Cereal Millers Association decision to reduce the prices.
Two weeks ago the small-scale millers — who control 70 per cent of the milling businesses in the country — threatened to increase the Unga prices from Sh90 to Sh98 because of introduction of Value Added Tax on fuel.