Cost of Unga: Consumers of maize flour in Kenya should brace themselves for tough times ahead. This is because the cost of the 2kg packet of maize flour is set to hit Sh. 150 in the next one month.
According to Agriculture Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, the cost of unga will shoot from the current rate of Sh. 120 to Sh. 150.
“Prices of a two-kilogrammes packet of maize flour is currently retailing at Sh120 but this might increase to more than Sh.150 in the next one month if right measures are not taken,” he said. “We understand there is a big shortage of more than 19 million bags that need to be imported but we are yet to pass the motion to authorize the importation.”
This news comes amidst revelations that 124,500 bags of maize held by the State in the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) are contaminated with aflatoxin.
In a report tabled in Parliament, the ministry of Agriculture revealed that more than half of the contaminated maize is to be destroyed through incineration. The balance is to be used in processing of animal feeds. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), large doses of aflatoxin leads to acute poisoning (aflatoxicosis) that can be life-threatening, usually through damage to the liver.
Long-term or chronic exposure to aflatoxins has several health consequences and may affect all organ systems, especially the liver and kidneys. It can also cause liver cancer.
The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), which stores the strategic food reserves (SFR), early last month said maize worth Sh. 9.2 billion was at risk of going to waste after the cash-strapped State agency ran out of funds to light storage silos and carry out fumigation. The cash-strapped NCPB said its employees had gone without salaries for two months, paralysing essential services. Kenya Power had also disconnected electricity connection over pending bills.