Kenyan maize importers breath fire over crop ban

Friday April 02 2021
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Trucks with imported maize from Tanzania waiting to offload outside Mombasa Maize Millers in Mombasa in this picture take in August 2019. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

By The Citizen Reporter


Frustrated Kenyan maize traders are once again bitter over the ban on the commodity imports from Tanzania.

They want the regulatory authorities in their country to review the restriction so as to save them from the huge losses.

“Put a break on these harsh measures,” said David Wainaina, the chairman of the Kenya International Freight and Warehousing Association (Kifwa).

He said at the Namanga border post on Wednesday that the Kenyan and Tanzanian authorities should meet and resolve the matter.

“If maize from Tanzania has always been clean, where does the Aflatoxin come from?”he asked during a crisis meeting convened by the East African Business Council (EABC).


Kenya banned imports of maize from Tanzania and Uganda on March 5, this year over reported contamination of the mycotoxins.

The order was made through Kenya’s Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) which claimed Aflatoxin levels were higher beyond the safety benchmarks.

Mr Wainaina noted that the conditions made to them were “harsher” to the importers who had already purchased the cereals from Tanzania.

Kifwa vice chairman Alex Seita said maize importers using the Namanga border post were incurring $200 per day for the stranded cargo.

“The government is not doing much to help us,” he said, noting that some of the traders had taken bank loans to import the cereals.

During a visit to the border on Wednesday, The Citizen found unspecified number trucks loaded with the grains stranded in the area.

According to Mr Seita, 18 of the trucks with maize had returned to Arusha while lorries with maize already purchased were still stranded.

Responding to the complaints, AFA crop inspector Calistus Efukho said the ban would stand as long as maize imports are contaminated with the toxic fungi.

The certificate of conformity should indicate that the Aflatoxin levels complies with the maximum required levels of 10 parts per billion.

However, he said once the issue is resolved, maize trade with Tanzania will resume “as long as each importer is registered”.

Ms Elizabeth Kinyanjui, Kifwa secretary, called on the Kenyan government to compensate the traders for the losses incurred.

She said before the ban was effected, the Kenyan authorities apparently did not consult their Tanzanian and Ugandan counterparts.

At the Holili border post up to 423 tonnes of maize have been refused entry into Kenya for alleged Aflatoxin contamination.

The Kilimanjaro regional commissioner Anna Mghwira said the Tanzanian experts have tested the cereals and found it safe for human consumption.

She said during her visit to the border yesterday that people or institutions in need of the maize should contact her office.