Kenya softens non-GMO stance, allows yellow maize imports

National Treasury CS Ukur Yatani backtracked on an earlier notice indicating that Government would only allow 100 per cent non-GMO yellow maize into the country. [File, Standard]

The government has softened its tough conditions, allowing 26 companies to import yellow maize that is 99.1 per cent non-GMO.

In a Gazette notice exempting duty on imported raw materials used to manufacture animal and chicken feed, National Treasury CS Ukur Yatani backtracked on an earlier notice indicating that Government would only allow 100 per cent non-GMO yellow maize into the country.

“The companies listed in the first column of this Schedule may import the specified animal feeds raw materials in quantities set out in the subsequent columns for use in the manufacture of animal and chicken feed.”

“The total import shall not exceed targets as set out in this schedule,” said Yatani in the Gazette notice dated June 10, 2022.

Bidco Africa Limited and MS Cateress Milling Company Limited will bring in the highest amount of yellow maize (50,000 tonnes) followed by 40,000 tonnes each by Unga Farm Care (EA) Limited and Pembe Flour Mill Limited.

In total, these companies will be allowed to import 341,950 tonnes of yellow maize to be used for the manufacture of animal feeds in what is aimed at reducing pressure on white maize.

White maize, which is used mostly for human consumption, has been disappearing from the country’s silos with Kenyans forced to shop for this critical cereal outside of its borders. 

On September 8 last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the drought affecting some parts of the country a national disaster.

Consequently, the National Treasury decided to give an exemption from import duty on imported raw materials used in the manufacture of animal and chicken feed imported between November 1, 2021, and the end of October 2022 by licensed Millers approved by the Government.

Other than yellow maize, other materials that have been exempted from import duty include soya bean meal, soya bean, cotton seed cake, sunflower seed cake, white sorghum, fish meal, dried distillers grains with solubles and Rapeseed cake.

The cost of animal feeds—like many other imported products—has been going through the roof. However, even after the government had offered the duty waiver, importers were still unable to import raw materials given Kenya’s ban on GMO products, according to the Association of Kenya Feeds Manufacturers (Akefema).

The association’s secretary-general Martin Kinoti told The Standard in February that European countries that would have supplied the materials do not meet Kenya’s demands for 100 per cent GMO-free products. 

“It is not possible to get 100 per cent GMO-free animal feed anywhere and if you do, it is for speciality feed, which is twice the price.”

Treasury has climbed down from 100 per cent GMO-free to 99.1 per cent, not only for imported yellow maize but also for soya bean, soya bean meal, sunflower cake and white sorghum.

Until Thursday, these changes made on the previous gazette notice reducing the GMO purity threshold to 99.1 per cent were with the Attorney General awaiting to be sent to the printer for gazettement, Livestock PS Harry Kimtai had said.

The new notice also extends the window for imports by another six months. The list of millers allowed to import duty-free animal and chicken feeds has also been increased from 18 to 26 millers. The yellow maize shall have a moisten content not exceeding 13.5 per cent as provided for under the laws of Kenya and Kenyan standards.

Its aflatoxin levels shall not exceed ten parts per billion as provided for under the laws of Kenya and Kenyan Standards (KSEAS2:2017) implemented by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and the Department of Veterinary Services which is under the State Department of Livestock. Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by fungi due to exposure to moisture.

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