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    By George Munene

    As Kenya seeks to increase maize, sugar, and wheat imports to reduce rising costs and tackle food insecurity, rising permit costs and transportation, a dollar shortage, and delayed clearance at border points are reducing the ease of doing business for traders.

    Tanzania has increased the cost of export permits by 93 per cent. The authorities in Tanzania have increased the cost of acquiring export permits from the previous Sh27,000 per truck to Sh52,000, according to border officials.

    Transport costs of maize from the source markets has increased by 150 per cent resulting in transporters charging the equivalent of Sh1,500 from Sh600 previously for a single bag of maize transported from either Malawi or Zambia. This has pushed the landing cost of a 90-kilo bag in Nairobi to Sh6,000.

    The Kenya Association of Manufacturers has for its part expressed worries over the prevailing dollar shortage. Members who mainly rely on imported raw materials, it claimed, cannot access dollars at the official market rates.

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    According to a report by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), delayed pre-arrival clearances by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is causing traffic queues at border points reducing the ease of doing business for traders.

    Increased exports to Kenya have also forced the Tanzania Revenue Authority to post its officials to Mombasa and Nairobi to facilitate the pre-arrival clearance of goods.

    Tanzania has imposed a new requirement on grain traders to get an export permit before shipping maize out of the country, in a policy shift that has locked already bought stocks of grain by Kenyan millers at the border.

    Kenya and Uganda are staring at another round of trade wars after Nairobi reintroduced a levy on eggs imported from the neighbouring country. Uganda says Kenya is now taxing its eggs at a rate of Sh72 a tray.

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    Importers and exporters in Kenya are however set to benefit from increased competitiveness and reduced cost of doing business from reduced shipment delays and demurrage charges after President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the National Electronic Single Window System Bill, 2021, on June 21.

    The government has also embarked on a sensitization campaign countrywide to create awareness amongst the business community on the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free-Trade (AfCFTA), and how to exploit the openings offered.

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    By George Munene

    According to data from the USDA Foreign Agriculture Office, soybeans, soybean meal, and corn imports have seen a 72 percent increase from 2012 to 2021. This has been driven by the rise in the cost of livestock feed production.

    In 2021, Kenya imported $21.0 million of soybean meal-- a 97 per cent increase from 2017. Soybean imports peaked at $8.5 million in 2020, most of which came from Ukraine. This is expected to rise further.

    As the price of feed production and the country’s livestock capacity increases, Kenya is expected to look outside of domestic products to supplement demand.

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    The Government of Kenya (GoK) has made key animal feed ingredients (yellow maize, soybeans, soy meal, cottonseed cake, sunflower seed cake, white sorghum, and fish meal) exempt from import duties in an effort to curb these rising feed prices.

    The majority of grain imports to Kenya are for human consumption with most feed products a by-product of their processing. Kenya’s reticence to embrace genetically engineered (GE) crops means it cannot access cheaper raw materials from global markets.

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    Currently, raw materials for feed including cereals, soybeans, and oilcake are majorly imported from EAC and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) member states such as Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania, due to low tariffs, geographical proximity, and GE-free products.

    However, as the broader Eastern Africa region suffers from the worst droughts in over 40 years and high fertilizer prices, Kenya will be forced to look for alternative sources of grain.

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    By George Munene

    In what the agriculture ministry termed a game-changer for mango farmers, Kenya is constructing of a hot water treatment facility at the Nairobi Horticulture Center. This will help the fruit's farmers combat the mango fruit fly which has stopped the country from accessing lucrative markets such as the European Union (EU).

    “Mango farmers have largely been limited to the local market as a prevalence of fruit fly pests has made it difficult to penetrate the EU market. Construction of a hot water treatment facility is key in tackling this pest and adding value to our mangoes, ensuring our farmers have access to this lucrative market,” said Agriculture CS Munya at the launch on Thursday. 

    While the country has gained a foothold in the EU avocado market, becoming the block's fifth-largest avocado supplier, a prevalence of fruit flies has meant mango exports have primarily been limited to Arab nations. 

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    Since 2015 Kenya has imposed a self-ban from exporting mangoes to the EU because of fears that the country’s fruit would be blacklisted for having high levels of the menacing fruit fly. This would have made it harder to resume exports. 

    A condition of export resumption was that the country would construct a hot water treatment plant and establish pest free zones to contain the fly.  

    The country has only this year shipped its first consignment of mangoes to Italy. 

    According to chair of the National Horticulture taskforce Clement Tulezi, Europe is on the lookout for different variety of mangoes. To compete in this lucrative market farmers will need to harvest quality pest free mangoes and grow varieties that are suited to the palette of Europe’s consumers.

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    “They are more than four million mango trees in Makueni, which is more than any other county in Kenya. However, our production does not reflect this due to post-harvest losses, majorly caused by fruit flies. Once this treatment facility is in operation, we will no longer lose out, esspecially on the more profitable international market,” said Phillys Nduva, Makueni Fruit Joint Cooperative chair.

    Fruit fly control measures saw Kenya’s mango exports jump from 7,114,721 metric tonnes in 2020 to 10,378, 480 MT valued at Sh1.716 billion in 202. 

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