The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) is set to release maize worth Sh1 billion to millers who have paid for the grain following a deal brokered by senior government officials, including Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua.
Mr Kinyua, Interior Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho reached the agreement after they met with officials from NCPB and the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund (SFRT) chief executive Omar Salat.
The meeting came a day after the Ministry of Agriculture stopped distribution of maize to milling firms following complaints of diversion of the State-subsidised staple.
“My CEO met with top government officials on Monday (who) issued a directive to NCPB to release the grain to those millers who have already paid,” said SFRT chairman Noah Wekesa.
Previous State food subsidies have generated heated controversy, with accusations of collusion between public officials and cartels who abuse the process to pocket illegal gains.
The government is selling a 90-kilo bag of maize at Sh2,300 against the market price of Sh3,300, while the grain meant for animal feed will be sold at Sh1,600 for the same quantity.
Dr Wekesa said NCPB has decided to release the maize urgently to curb the rising cost of flour in the market, which has now hit Sh120 for a two-kilogram packet.
The cereals board is set to start releasing the stocks to millers today.
“Those who have paid can now collect their stocks starting Thursday. Our aim as SFRT is to ensure that there is sufficient grain in the market to safeguard the interest of consumers,” said Dr Wekesa.
The Grain Mill Owners Association and the Association of Kenya Feeds Manufacturers had warned that Kenyans were going to run out of maize flour in a few days and that the price of livestock meals was set to rise further if the grain is not released immediately.
The government had allocated maize to millers based on their installed processing capacity, with the larger processors getting 1.1 million bags while their small-scale counterparts were to receive about one million bags.