The Ministry of Industrialisation went against advice from Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) to import 5,000 metric tonnes of maize.
Kebs rejected the maize, imported from Malawi in May, citing high moisture content, discolouration and broken grains.
The standardâs body directed the maize be re-shipped to the country of origin.The maize had a moisture content of 13.6 against the recommended limit of 13.5.
But the ministry overruled this owing to the hunger situation in the country and ordered the maize be released to the market to help feed the hungry, but under conditions that they be directed to millers for immediate milling. The milling was to be supervised by Kebs.
Industrialisation PS Karanja Kibicho told the joint parliamentary committee on Health, Education and Agriculture that the decision was arrived after a meeting with relevant Government officials.
âIf it was in January when we had no problems (of hunger), Kebs would just reject it (the consignment),â said the PS. âKenyans were starving and Kebs had to go out of its way to supervise milling.â
However, questions were raised about the destination of the maize with Machakos MP Victor Munyaka releasing a letter authored by Kenya Revenue Authority directing the importer to re-export the maize to Burundi, Somalia and Uganda, following the rejection by Kebs.
Nyando MP Fred Outa said it was wrong to allow rejected maize access into the market to feed poor Kenyans.
Rations of Maize
Acting Kebs Managing Director John Abongs had written a letter directing the maize be reshipped since it failed to meet the standards while Kibicho wrote a rejoinder stating the minister is of the view that the maize be released to the market since the country was âfaced with severe maize shortage and urgent interventions were necessary.â âThe reshipment was to be done under normal circumstances,â said Abongs.