Packets of maize flour at a Nyeri supermarket
The price of a 1Kg packet will drop to Ksh52 for the period of the subsidy. [Photo/ Joseph Kanyi/ NMG]

A newly introduced government subsidy will see the price of a 2Kg packet of unga (maize flour) drop from Ksh230 to Ksh100. The subsidy will be in place for a period of four weeks.

The price of a 1Kg packet will drop to Ksh52 for the duration of the subsidy programme. A 12-pack bale of 2kg unga will cost Ksh1,080 down from around Ksh2,600.

The intervention comes amid widespread public outcry on the cost of living as the prices of fuel and food continue to hit record highs. The inflation rate in Kenya hit 7.9% in June 2022, crossing the upper limit of the Central Bank’s target range of 2.5%-7.5% for the first time since August 2017.

Known officially as the Sifted Maize Flour Subsidy Programme, the new deal will see the Ministry of Agriculture subsidize the price of maize flour being produced and sold by the millers.

The subsidy will be steered by an Oversight Committee which includes representatives from the National Treasury, Agriculture Ministry, Cereal Millers Association and Grain Mill Owners Association. Millers will continue to buy maize available in the market at market rates.

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Market surveillance officials will be deployed by the ministry to ensure flour is sold at the maximum recommended retail prices.

An escrow account at the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shall be opened and operated by the Agriculture Ministry to ensure payments are made as stipulated in the contract to facilitate the subsidy.

The Agriculture Ministry shall station their representatives at the premises and depots of millers to verify proof of sale of maize flour into the market. They will rely on invoices to the millers’ customers for the flour being sold and delivery/dispatch documents.

But with the subsidy only set to last for four weeks, by which time President Uhuru Kenyatta will be out of office, Kenyans remain exposed to a return to high unga prices once the subsidy contract elapses.

Both leading Presidential candidates Raila Odinga and William Ruto have promised to address the high cost of living if elected.

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