02 December 2008

More Kenya maize cost cuts urged

Kenya's government has been urged to cut maize costs even more, after announcing a drastic reduction in the price of the staple food. A 2-kg bag of maize was selling at 120 shillings (£1; $1.50) last week - up from some 48 shillings last year. The authorities have agreed with millers a bag should now sell for between 65 and 72 shillings. But a senior governing coalition party member warned that the reductions were not enough.

The government has said low-income consumers will be able to buy packets of government-branded flour at 52 shillings per packet under a new pricing system, which is due to come into force over the next five to 10 days. Jakoyo Midiwo, chief whip of the Orange Democratic Movement and MP for Gem, told Kenya's Standard newspaper that consumers could only afford to pay 40 shillings. Prices have been slashed in response to public anxiety over the rising cost of the food, amid shortages from post-election violence earlier this year.

The government had already said it would import a further 5m bags of maize to avert a food shortage caused by the unrest which destroyed fields and forced thousands of farmers to flee their homes. A statement from Prime Minister Raila Odinga's office also said the government would provide affordable fertiliser and seeds and import 150,000 tonnes of fertiliser to boost maize production. 

BBC Tuesday, 2 December 2008