Maize shortage: 10 millers forced to shut down as Unga prices projected to rise
About ten small-scale millers have completely shut their operations due to an acute shortage of maize coupled with non-payment of maize delivered under the subsidy program.
According to the United Grain Millers Association, nearly all the small-scale millers have scaled down on their operations as a result of the situation.
Fears are now rife as millers project higher maize flour prices if the situation persists as small and medium-scale millers in the country are struggling for their survival.
Speaking during the annual millers’ conference in Nairobi, the United Grain Millers Association (UGMA) Chairman Ken Nyaga said the lack of financial muscle to buy the grain has led to a shortage crippling operations of the 200 members.
“I have like around 10, those who have slowed its almost everybody because they are unable to feed their machines with that maize,” Nyaga said.
Their woes also emanate from delayed payment for maize delivered under the subsidy program between July 21st to August 17th last year. The government owes both large and small-scale millers around Ksh. 3 billion. Out of this, small and medium scale millers are demanding over Ksh. 300 million to continue running their operations.
“Most millers were operating on bank facilities, I know some have been auctioned, some have shut down, others slowed on operations because they cannot buy maize….so we are looking at a very hard time when we don’t have money to purchase, because it is owned by the same government that is expecting us to buy and bring the cost of flour down,” Nyaga added.
Further compounding the situation is the costly maize in the market, with a 90-kilogram bag selling at an average of Ksh. 6,000 from Ksh. 4,500 two months ago.
“Find a way of reducing maize prices because as the price goes down, consumer benefits….something has to be done to find some ways for us to continue with our business,” stated Nyaga.
The government says it is in the process of importing 4 million bags of duty-free maize this month as part of measures to bring down the cost of food, with the first consignment expected next week.
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