The cost of maize flour in Nyeri is still high despite hopes that things would change after farmers in North Rift began harvesting their crop late last year.
A spot check by KNA at leading supermarkets in Nyeri town has revealed that the price of a two-kilogram packet of maize flour was retailing at between Sh 185 and 245.
For instance, at the Naivas Supermarket, a two-kilogram packet of Soko maize flour was retailing at Sh 207 while that of Raha premium was going for Sh 245. On the other hand, a packet of Mama Brand maize flour was selling at Sh 198 in both retail outlets.
At Chieni Supermarket, a two-kilogram packet of Kozi maize flour was selling at Sh 188, Maisha maize flour Sh 195 while Pala maize flour cost Sh 185.
At Samrat Supermarket, a two-kilogram packet of Soko maize flour was retailing at Sh 205, Amaize flour cost Sh 225 while Bradegate maize flour was selling at Sh 190.
Charles Muriithi, the proprietor of Nyama Bite eateries in Nyeri town while commenting on the high cost of maize flour said he was still hopeful things will improve once the long rains finally come down.
He, however, lamented that the government had delayed importing dry maize into the country arguing that such a move could have addressed the current shortage being experienced in the country.
Muriithi said the high cost of basic foodstuff such as maize flour has impacted negatively on his business and led to reduced profits since they cannot hike the prices of meals for fear of losing customers.
'The plan by the government to import maize into the country could be a game changer since it would translate to reduced costs in the price of maize flour. At the moment the high cost of maize flour has disadvantaged people like us since we cannot adjust the price of our meals without running the risk of losing our clients,' he told KNA.
He, however, faulted the ongoing protest rallies by the opposition aimed at pushing the government to address the high cost of food in the country accusing the organizers of having a hidden political agenda in their demos.
On her part, Mercy Wambui, a housewife said she has already adapted to the current prices of maize flour since she recognised there are various factors surrounding the issue of the high cost of basic foodstuffs beyond the government's scope.
She has nevertheless appealed to the government to urgently put in place measures that would help address the current food crisis before things get out of hand.
Wambui also faulted those criticizing the opposition for agitating for the lowering of prices of basic commodities insisting they have a right to put the government to task over the matter.
'I really believe President Dr William Ruto's government will do something in reducing the cost of food in this country soon to ease the suffering of the common person. On the other hand, we have an opposition side that is playing the role of the people's spokesperson in pushing the government to act in addressing some of these challenges facing the ordinary Kenyan. If the government does not act, then the opposition will definitely speak out on behalf of the people,' she said.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on Sunday said the country's food situation was aggravated by a global maize shortage due to the effects of climate change.
'There is no cheap maize anywhere in the world, the only maize available is expensive to import. Unfortunately, I am sorry to tell the people of Kenya there is no maize… Cheap maize is not available anywhere in the world,' Gachagua said.
According to the DP, the only maize available is from South Africa but there is stiff competition from Angola and Rwanda for the same. 'There is maize in Brazil but it is too expensive to import mainly due to the logistics involved, especially the distance,' Gachagua explained.
The DP however said the government had opened the window for the importation of duty-free maize since February to cushion Kenyans from the high prices of maize flour.
'It is a difficult situation. Two months ago, when we gave millers and traders permits to import maize, they told us that they were competing with other governments for the same maize wherever they go,' he added.
Azimio la Umoja leaders led by Raila Odinga have been putting pressure on Dr Ruto's administration to among other things address the high cost of living or else face nationwide demonstrations to force the government to act.
Already Raila has threatened to lead a massive rally in Nairobi on Monday next week to force the government to address challenges facing Kenyans including a demand to put up an all-inclusive panel to reconstitute the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Source: Kenya News Agency