Kenya has increased its maize imports from Uganda, as grain prices rise due to destruction of harvests by the ongoing heavy rains in the country.
In the last two weeks, Kenya has received close to 3,000 tonnes from Uganda through the border points, as heavy rains in the Rift Valley bread basket continue to present a threat to the new harvest.
Data from the Regional Agricultural Trade Intelligence Network (Ratin) run by the Eastern African Grain Council — which monitors real-time cross-border grain trade — shows that an average 700 tonnes of maize crossed into Kenya from Uganda every day last week.
Over the past three months, Kenya has been importing maize from Ethiopia and Uganda.
Last week, a 90kg bag of maize in Nairobi was trading at $34.7, double the price in Kampala, where it is $17.2. But Bujumbura has the most lucrative market, with a bag going for $56.2. In Dar es Salaam, the same bag sold at $28 while in Kigali is sold at $26.
Uganda sold about 60 tonnes to Kigali last week and 60 tonnes to Tanzania.
Data also shows importation of maize from Tanzania to Kenya through the Isebania border, in spite of a grain export ban by the Magufuli government.
Farmers in Kenya have asked for government help in drying the grain to avoid losses due to aflatoxin, which affects are up to 30 per cent of maize harvests every season.
Kenya faces a maize shortfall due the fall armyworm infestation, which destroyed about 200,000 hectares of maize, cutting production by four million bags. Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett has warned of the likelihood of a maize flour shortage next year too.
The country imported 30,000 tonnes of the grain from Mexico, in an effort to reduce the price of maize flour — which had reached a high of $1.8 for a 2kg pack — and introduced subsidised maize flour.