The government has launched a cheaper maize flour brand in the market which will sell at half the current retail price of Ksh150. Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, who launched the Ksh75 two-kilo Unga Galana packet on Wednesday, said it will be initially available in Coast region.
It has been milled and packed at the Galana-Kulalu irrigation project by the National Irrigation Board from the 10,000-acre model farm in Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme. This is certainly good news for beneficiaries even as the government announced Tuesday that the price of flour for the rest of the country will drop to Ksh115 from next week, helped by tax measures that allow importation.
Below are five major reasons the Ksh75 floor will make more Kenyans angry and hungrier.
It will only last for two days: The government-owned cheaper maize flour of Sh75 a packet will only last for two days, dimming efforts to curb the current runaway price that has seen the cost of a 2kg packet hit Sh150 and offer long term relief to Kenyans. Kenyans consume about three million bags of maize monthly, translating to about 100,000 bags daily. Galana has harvested 165,000 bags so far, hence that would last for only one and a half days if milled and taken to the market in one batch.
Only coastal region will benefit: Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa says the flour will be released to Coastal Kenya from today (Thursday) as it has already been milled and stored at the Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme. It has not been stated clearly the fate of other regions.
Unpredictable supply: It is not known when the next batch of flour will come, and it is not any time soon. This is because the land that is expected to end the pangs of hunger among Kenyans is not fully utilized. Of the 10,000-acre model farm that NIB is implementing at the moment, only 4,250 acres have been put under the crop.
Mr Wamalwa says the model farm will be completed in the next six months following importation of the required water pumps from Israel. The government will then invite the private sector to lease land and plant crops in the second phase that will cover 200,000 acres before opening up the entire one million acres.
“This is work in progress, the stocks may not be enough to create an impact now, but we are putting strategies in place to ensure that we expand the scheme to produce more and eventually lower the price of flour in future,” said Mr Wamalwa
Production may not be sustainable: The cost of production of a two kilogramme packet of the Unga Galana, based on the figures issued by National Irrigation Board (NIB), is Sh74 and the agency says that it is not selling it for profit. This might not be sustainable over time. This will eventually lead to a rise in prices of the Flour to match the competitors.
Very little might reach hunger-stricken Kenyans: The greed witnessed in the country may not allow businessmen and middlemen to sell the flour at Ksh75. The flour might be re-packaged and sold at exuberant prices that match the current prices of other brands.