July 23, 2008


Kenya halts wheat imports to protect local farmers



Kenya has suspended wheat imports until local farmers finish selling their stocks to millers, a farmers' representative said Tuesday (July 22).


Local farmers have been complaining of a glut of wheat supplies in the local market after the government reduced wheat import duty to 10 percent from 35 percent in June to avert a looming food shortage.


"What the farmers want is a rationalization of the local market so that they do not make huge loses," David Nyameino, the chairman of Cereal Growers Association, said by telephone.


Nyameino said the decision to suspend wheat imports was reached last week at a meeting between the Agriculture Minister William Ruto and farmers' representatives.


Nyameino said the high cost of inputs and unfavourable weather conditions in Kenya's main wheat growing areas increased production costs, while millers were buying cheap imports.


Kenya's wheat grain requirement is around 900,000 tonnes a year while production is around 300,000 tonnes.

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