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Unpacking the secrets of GoK’s Sh90 unga

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Attention Kenyans, the price of unga has come down to Ksh90. With a hundred shillings, you get some change for vegetables.

In a quick move aimed appeasing restless Kenyans ahead of elections, the government has subsidized the price of maize flour, pushing down retail prices to Ksh90 for a 2kg pack and Ksh47 for a kilo pack, effective today, from a high of Ksh160.

Sift through the flour for details

Business Today obtained a 2-kilo packet from Tuskys Supermarket, as our next door neigbour Nakumatt Moi Avenue had yet to receive supplies. It felt nostalgic to touch the Soko brand from Capwell Millers.

Given the controversy on unga, which culminated in its disappearance from the shelves as prices skyrocketed, we were not giving anything to chance. With talk of miracles happening such as maize imports arriving from Mexico in a record two days, processed and packed in 24 hours, you just can’t judge unga by its packet anymore.

So, we decided to unpack this so precious commodity, as happens in unboxing a new phone!

A part from the GoK red sticker, the packaging hasn’t changed, even the glue that sticks the packet at the loose end remains intact with its uneven spread. The quantity is more or less the same (we had no weighing scale to confirm, though).

 

Turning it around – behold! – we stumbled on a miracle of sorts. This the newest unga you will ever touch – fresh from production, having been packed on 15th May and on the shelves less than 40 hours later!

Anyway, after missing unga for so long, the date of manufacture matters less than the content. So, our editor, Francis Muli, carefully unwraps the packet, pealing the papers off the dry glue very slowly as if expecting it to pop out like Champaign or something to crawl out!

He smiles and looks around. “Yes, it’s real flour,” he says, an indication of the cynicism that has characterized the maize and flour debate in the country. Muli may have expected anything from yellow flour to something more mischievous like an election campaign brochure.

The quality of the subsidized flour remains normal as grade 1 sifted maize meal goes. A touch reveals its trademark crumby texture.

Our experiment ended up with making real ugali from the unga. No surprise! It gives out the real thing; the only difference is the preference for soft or hard dough. Though it tasted different, somehow sweeter. Perhaps we have been used to the ‘bitter’ taste expensive floor and its politics left in our mouths.


The government has not yet stated whether the subsidized flour is milled from the maize imported from Mexico, which arrived at the Mombasa port last week under a cloud of controversy, with the opposition saying the government was manipulating the food shortage in the country.

Most retailers in different parts of the country said they had not received the flour.

In a public notice seen by Business Today, the government through the ministry of Agriculture, says it has partnered with several millers to stabilise maize flour prices.

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“As part of the Government’s Food subsidy programme which seeks to reverse the recent rise in prices of essential food commodities. It is notified to the public that effective Wednesday, the government has partnered with various millers to offer white maize flour at subsidized rates across the country,” read the public notice.

Phase one of participating millers under the programme are Alpha Grain millers, Capwell Industries Eldoret Grains and Osho Grain Millers among others.
However, when Business Today toured most of city retailers as of Wednesday 17th May, only Soko Maize meal from Capwell Industries was available on the shelves, possibly an indication that millers were actually hoarding (and rationing) the commodity.

At Tuskys Pioneer, Soko maize flour was just arriving late morning. Other brands available were Ugali Afya, which is retailing at Ksh225 and Hostess at Ksh184.

Next Read: The Sh75 packet unga that never was

Business Today obtained a pack from the retailers, Soko brand from Capwell millers. The quality of the unga remains normal, the grade 1 sifted maize meal.

“Millers will process, package and distribute the flour from this subsidy programme in packets clearly and boldly marked ‘GoK food subsidy’ in line with the approved subsidy mark,” the notice said.

About 30,000 tonnes have so far been imported from Mexico to address the food shortage in the country that has hiked the price of the important commodity, and an additional consignment is expected in a fortnight.

Back in April, a plan by the government to provide a Sh75 unga per packet from Galana-Kulalu warehouse failed and it’s only hoped that the subsidy will take Kenyans until the next harvest from September.

[crp]

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BUSINESS TODAY
BUSINESS TODAYhttps://businesstoday.co.ke
editor [at] businesstoday.co.ke
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