Ten small-scale millers have been forced to shut down their operations due to an acute shortage of maize and also financial strains occasioned by non-payment of maize delivered under the governemt’s subsidy program.
According to the United Grain Millers Association, besides the millers who have closed down, all the rest of the small-scale millers have scaled down on their operations owing to the situation.
“The millers woes also emanate from delayed payment for maize delivered under the subsidy program between July 21st to August 17th last year. The government owes both large and small-scale millers around Ksh. 3 billion. Out of this, small and medium scale millers are demanding over Ksh. 300 million to continue running their operations,” said the United Grain Millers Association (UGMA) Chairman Ken Nyaga.
“Most millers were operating on bank facilities, I know some have been auctioned, some have shut down, others slowed on operations because they cannot buy maize….so we are looking at a very hard time when we don’t have money to purchase, because it is owned by the same government that is expecting us to buy and bring the cost of flour down,” Nyaga added.
If the situation persists, the prices of unga are projected to go higher as the millers fight for survival.
Speaking during the annual millers’ conference in Nairobi, the United Grain Millers Association (UGMA) Chairman Ken Nyaga said the lack of financial muscle to buy the grain has led to a shortage crippling operations of the 200 members.
Currently, a 90-kilogram bag of maize is selling at an average of Ksh. 6,000 up from Ksh. 4,500 two months ago. Consumers have been buying the 2kg bag of unga/maize flout at ksh 200.
The millers association has urged the government to find a way of reducing maize prices so that the effect trickles down to consumers.
The government last month announced that it is in the process of importing 4 million bags of duty-free maize as part of measures to bring down the cost of food.