Kenya: body responsible for maize ban stripped of its powers
Arusha. The Kenyan regulatory authority behind the recent ban on maize imports from Tanzania has been stripped of its powers.
From now on, the Agriculture and Food Authority (Afa) will be withdrawn from the customs clearance of corn imports.
Kenyan media reported earlier this week that the decision was taken by Cabinet Secretary of Agriculture Peter Munya.
By removing Afa from the customs clearance chain, the regulator would have no power to register maize at border points.
The measure, the ministry said, would facilitate the clearance of imports of agricultural products, among other things.
Mr. Munya added that the Kenyan government would instead rely on the Kenya Phytosanitary Inspection Service (Kephis) for quality assurance.
“From now on, Afa will no longer register the maize already registered by Kephis,” he insisted during his recent visit to the Namanga border post.
The move comes three months after Afa imposed tough conditions on grain imports from Tanzania and Uganda.
The Kenyan regulator put in place just eight years ago cited high levels of aflatoxin, a carcinogenic fungus in corn.
Most of the grain importers in Kenya reportedly failed to meet the tough conditions, including maize testing and registration.
Restrictive conditions for Afa’s maize imports to Kenya were compounded by a recent state visit to Kenya by President Samia Suuhu Hassan.
She and her host President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya have ordered that corn stocks stranded at the border be cleared within two weeks.
President Kenyatta, in particular, insisted that stocks be cleared to save traders from the huge losses suffered as a result of the restrictions.
However, he insisted that cross-border trade between the two countries should follow existing laws and regulations.
Corn importers in Kenya have often criticized Afa for its restrictions on Tanzanian exporters which they describe as “untenable”.
For their part, they claimed they suffered losses amounting to $ 200 per day for the containment of their cargo at the Namanga border post.
President Kenyatta said Kenya was committed to flawless bilateral trade with Tanzania through the removal of unnecessary barriers.
The apparent removal of powers from Kenya’s cereal import regulator became evident at a recent meeting of business stakeholders in Namanga.
Kenyan officials seemed more inclined to resuming cross-border trade and that AFA should no longer be seen as the sole regulator.
The meeting convened by the East African Community (EAC) was informed that truck drivers would only be tested once when crossing borders and not twice.
“They will be tested once at the place of origin. They are only supposed to produce Covid-19 compliance certificates at the border, ”it was said at the meeting.
It was agreed that drivers should no longer be subject to a one-day stay in border towns to await Covid-19 test results.
“Once a trader presents a certificate, we will purge it immediately,” said Joseph Muywaywa, an official with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
Kenya is a major market for maize, East Africa a staple food for generations, most of the grain coming from the northern regions.