The Treasury Department has extended duty-free maize imports by two months.
The government has extended duty-free maize imports for another two months to allow maize importers to ship in the production and alleviate the cereal shortage that has driven up the price of maize flour.
In an effort to alleviate pressure on maize flour prices, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani suspended import taxes on maize in May in order to increase imports from outside the East African Community (EAC).
Kenya is a net importer of maize, a staple food in the country, but has traditionally limited imports to protect local maize farmers at the expense of consumers, who are forced to pay a higher price for maize.
Mr. Yatani established a three-month window for importers to bring in up to 540,000 metric tons of duty-free maize until August 6.
The importers had complained that the initial window was too short to allow them to ship maize from other countries, such as Mexico, and that the duty-waiver would be ineffective because ships loaded with the product would dock after the window had closed.
The CS has now extended the window for two months, until September 30, to give maize importers who had placed orders enough time to bring their product into the country.
"It is notified for the general information of the public that, on the recommendation of the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury amends Gazette Notice No. 5544 of May 9, 2022 by deleting the words "August 6, 2022" and substituting the words "September 30, 2022," Mr. Yatani said in a gazette notice.
Kenya imports maize duty-free from the EAC, primarily Uganda and Tanzania, but pays a 50% tariff from countries that are not members of the EAC or the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).
This year's maize shortage was caused by low local production due to drought, combined with lower imports from abroad following the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war, which disrupted global cereal shipments.
Due to the maize shortage, the price of a kilo of loose maize grain increased by 31.5 percent year on year between July of last year and July of this year.
This has been exacerbated by a rise in the price of other staple foods such as white rice, which has increased 13.4%, and Irish potatoes, which has increased 15.4% during the same time period.
The combination of high food prices and record-high fuel prices has caused inflation to rise for the fourth month in a row, reaching 8.3 percent this month.