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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya mulls tax exemption on maize imports to beat hunger 

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya will zero rate maize imports to plug a huge deficit that has worsened food insecurity in the country as the drought situation escalates, officials said on Tuesday.

Cabinet Secretary for Treasury Henry Rotich said the government will extend tax rebates to manufacturers of maize flour who import the cereal from neighboring countries that have a surplus.

“We have agreed on a raft of emergency measures to reduce the price of maize flour to include zero rating imported grains and inputs like energy and transport,” Rotich told reporters in Nairobi.

He revealed the price of a 2 kilogram packet of maize flour could reduce from 1.50 dollars to 1.05 dollars in the next few days once tax exemptions on imported cereals are enforced.

“The millers are expected to lower price of maize flour because they will incur less production cost,” said Rotich, adding that the government had advertized open tenders for importation of maize.

Kenya fell below the target of producing 7 million bags of maize in the last season due to failed drains and invasion of lethal pests and diseases on the crop.

Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Willy Bett said the country only managed to produce three million bags of maize in the breadbaskets of North Rift region due to vagaries of weather.

“The prolonged drought has worsened maize shortage in the country but zero rating imports will ensure the staple food is available to Kenyans at a cheaper price,” said Bett.

He said the ministry of agriculture will release 1 million bags of maize this week from the strategic reserves to cushion drought hit Kenyans from ravages of hunger and malnutrition.

“We believe the release of an extra one million bags of maize from the national granaries will lead to a drop in the cost of the commodity,” said Bett, adding that maize imports will extend to July when bumper harvest is expected in Kenya’s bread baskets.

The minister disclosed the price of one bag of maize is expected to drop from 45 to 30 dollars once the grains stored in strategic reserves are released in the market.

             

 

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