Imports to put cheaper ugali on your plate next week, says Ruto

President William Ruto (centre) during the launch of Mavoko water supply project in Mavoko, Machakos County, on April 14, 2023. [PCS, Standard]

President William Ruto has promised lower prices of flour from next week after imported maize docks in the Port of Mombasa today.

He said the imported maize will bring down the cost of living given that millers will have to bring down the retail prices of Kenya’s stable food.

“We told you we are keen to bring down the cost of living. The imported maize will arrive tomorrow  and by next week, the prices will begin to come down,” he told residents of Athi River town in Machakos County yesterday after presiding over the commissioning of Mavoko Water Supply Project.

The President said the maize importation was a stop-gap measure as they put in place measures to boost the production of food through the provision of subsidised fertiliser which the government had issued to farmers from the beginning of March for the ongoing planting season.

“We have registered five million farmers and provided six million bags of fertiliser for food production. The imports are just a temporary measure, our long-term goal is to ensure a food-sufficient country,” said Ruto.

He said they were keen not to hurt the local farmer and the government was keen to ensure a proper balance that will secure the country from hunger and still give the Kenyan growers room to benefit from their trade.

He said those ‘shouting’ about the cost of living were active in previous government and contributed to the current mess and therefore did not have the moral authority to now call for unrest over the problem they created.

“When you go to the streets with cooking pans, the cost of living will not come down. You were part of the problem when you were actors in government, give me an opportunity to deal with the mess you helped created,” said Ruto. 

Yellow maize

Agriculture Principal Secretary Harsana Kello in an interview with The Saturday Standard said 48,000 metric tonnes of maize will dock today and others will follow in the following weeks until the country seals the 10 million bags deficit.

“We ordered 1.4 million bags of white maize, another 500,000 bags of yellow maize, and assorted animal feed that would ensure Kenyans and their livestock are catered for, we want to ensure the cost of food comes down as we wait for our own harvests,” said Kello.

He said Kenyans will make decisions on which maize is better between white and the nutritious yellow one which was retailing at an expensive price globally.

“Our traders got the white maize from South Africa and the yellow maize from a number of countries likewise to the assorted animal feeds. But our primary objective now is to boost our own production,” said Kello. 

The President called on the Azimio leadership led by opposition leader Raila Odinga to give the bipartisan talks a chance given that each side between them and Kenya Kwanza had picked teams of parliamentarians to engage.

“I am asking my friends to allow talks to prevail, both parties now have their representatives on the table, let them talk as equals, there is no need for them to go to the streets when they can solve their matters in parliament,” said Ruto.

The president promised to put up hundreds of affordable houses in Mavoko to alleviate the cost of housing as well as create jobs for youth.

Machakos Governor Wavinya Ndeti said she was ready to work with the president to ensure that the people in her country get development and thanked him for allocating Sh200 million for the construction of a level in Mavoko and the elevation of a health centre in Syokimau.   

She urged the Ruto to help them solve the land question around Mavoko and especially on the controversial Portland farm. “We have issues on land in Mavoko, most of our lands are done in Nairobi, we want the lands registry to be brought back to Mavoko so that we can fast track, 

Ndeti also asked for the National government to help the county complete the Mavoko stadium. “We request that you help us put some money to complete the project,” said Ms Ndeti.

Deputy Governor Francis Mwangangi thanked the president for giving the Ukambani region two cabinet secretary slots a thing that they had not experienced in the last 15 years.

He pleaded with the president to make the expressway toll-free so as to help the people of Machakos and those that use Mombasa Road make cheaper travel.

“Mr President, everyone across the country is using their roads without paying for them, please remove the toll on the Expressway so that we can travel freely,” said Mwangangi.

 State House spokesperson Hussein Mohammed said the Sh2.7 billion project has connected 20,000 households to clean and safe water, benefiting 500,000 residents in Mavoko Township, Athi River, Mlolongo, and Syokimau.

It will provide water to 500,000 residents of Mavoko Township, Athi River, Mlolongo and Syokimau, he said.