I walk into the supermarket and find it full of people with a queue winding all the way to the back. This is new, I never expect traffic anywhere in this small town, whether in the shop, markets, hotels even on the roads, the beauty of small town life.
Then I notice that everyone on the queue is carrying one specific commodity, maize flour. As I squeeze past them a loud voice comes from the entrance. “Pick only one packet of 2kg maize floor unless you are purchasing other commodities” The shoppers curse as they bend down to look at the large number of packets filling their shopping baskets, and suddenly the joyful smiles on their faces turn to frawns of sadness and anger.
This has been the situation for many weeks passed and still continues. Ugali is the staple food for the majority of Kenyans and so maize and maize flour the most sorted after commodity. But its supply has been way below it’s demand, and the prices high to the roof.
So what happened to our most produced agricultural produce, maize. Many theories abound. Some say the traders bought all the maize from farmers and hoarded to cause an artificail shortage in order to hike the prices making huge profits.
Others say the maize production was really low last season something that always happens during the election year,, like some curse from the gods.
Or maybe poor governance.
The government came in to help by ‘importing maize from Mexico’ milling it and selling the flour at a cheaper price. Ksh.90/= from ksh.170. Shop owners have been warned not to sell at any other price and this rule has been enforced by having under cover government officials buying the flour from shops as pretend customers. Those caught are persecuted and pay huge fines.
But the commodity is still under stocked since the government sells to traders at the same price they expect them to sell at, most avoid non profitable business. That’s why the owner of the supermarket asked buyers to take one unless they were buying other profit making commodities.
I had gone to purchase spaghetti and soap, maize floor was not in my budget but since I stumbled on it, I picked two packets which I know will serve me and my son for a month. I would have taken more but I had to be considerate of others.
Lovers of ugali are not gonna be voting for the current government come August, they view the shortage as result of poor governance.