The pain of expensive maize flour is not about to ease.
This is after millers said they are still consulting with the government and other stakeholders on how best to reduce the price of the staple.
The declaration comes a day after the Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-operatives Ministry announced, starting yesterday, that a 2kg packet of maize flour would retail at Sh100 for the next four weeks, a reduction of more than half from a high of Sh250. “Please be advised that the negotiations are at an advanced stage, but no prices have been set,” said the Cereal Millers Association (CMA), a lobby group for millers in Kenya.
It is a blow to millions of Kenyans who on Monday celebrated the announcement of the subsidy, in which millers would be compensated Sh93 for a 2kg packet of maize flour they sell to retail outlets, according to a contract
Retailers, including many supermarkets around the country, would get the cereal at Sh90 and sell it to consumers at Sh100.
The subsidy would have offered households a huge relief from the high cost of the flour used for making ugali after drought and costly fertiliser drastically reduced maize harvest in the country.
“We will advise all our stakeholders on the progress made towards achieving our goal of providing adequate, affordable, and ambitious maize flour,” said CMA.
At the heart of the disagreement between the millers and government officials is the experience of the 2017 subsidy programme in which some of the millers claim they have never been paid for the maize they sold at a subsidised price.
To grow the confidence of the, millers the government has proposed the subsidy money be deposited in an escrow account. An escrow account is where funds are held in trust, at the Central Bank of Kenya, whilst two or more parties complete a transaction. The account, which the contract said would always have sufficient funds, would be opened and operated by the Agriculture Ministry.
The subsidy programme and the escrow account are to be overseen by a committee comprising officials from Agriculture Ministry, the National Treasury, and CMA.