Tag Archives: GMO

Food Imports to Kenya

While there have been several discussions about maize and other food imports to Kenya  such as where the maize came from, who is selling it, and at what price, more is on the way to deal a national disaster situation, partly attributed to delayed rains and prolonged drought.

Writing in a recent opinion piece in the Standard, James Nyoro, government advisor (who was previously the Rockefeller Foundation’s Managing Director, Africa, and probably the next Deputy Governor of Kiambu), wrote that food imports are normal for Kenya… in normal years, Kenya imports 30% of maize, 75% of wheat, 45% of sugar and 80% of its rice needs.

This comes at a time when all of Africa is talking about embracing agri-business and getting more people and more value out of agriculture. Kenya is probably in a very good place, as it  produces lots of foods, does a lot of local consumption and international exports, and has good networks and communications tools for farmers and government, but still, there is little finance to agriculture, and a lot of prime agricultural lands is being converted to real estate or commercial uses.

The Cabinet Secretary for Treasury recently gazetted and listed companies that were allowed to import duty free, non-GMO, yellow maize to be used for animal feed including Unga Farmcare 36,000 metric tonnes, Pembe Feeds 20,000, Isinya Feeds 50,000, Sigma Feeds 50,000, Milele Feeds 20,000, Mombasa Maize Millers 36,000, Chania Feeds 4,000, Farmers Choice 30,000, Naku Modern Feeds 2,000, Pioneer Feeds 3,000, Empire Feeds 10,000, Tosha Feeds 90,000, Turbo Feeds 1,000, Treasure Feeds 3,000, Economy Farm Feeds 1,000, Prosper Properties 2,000, Legorn Feeds 3,000 , Huduma Feeds 6,000, Eden Millers 5,000, Ohami Feeds 1,000, Tarime Feeds 1,000, and Thika Farmers Group 36,000 metric tonnes

He also set published temporary rules for white maize, sugar, milk, and dates: The ones for white maize included Any person may import white maize if it meets the following conditions—

• The white maize shall not be genetically modified in accordance with the standards applicable in the European Union; i.e it shall not be genetically modified (GMO) maize.
• It shall have a moisture content not exceeding 14.5%;
• It’s aflatoxin levels shall not exceed 10 parts per million;
• It shall be accompanied by a certificate of conformity issued by a company appointed by the Kenya Bureau of Standards; and
• It shall have been imported on or before the 31st July, 2017.
• Any person may import dates during the month of Ramadhan.

In a separate notice, he authorized there be no duty on sugar imported between May 11 and 31 July 2017 and as well as on 9,000 tonnes of milk powder imported by milk processors authorized by the Kenya Dairy Board.

Unga AGM 2014

The 2014 annual general meeting (AGM) of Unga Ltd. shareholders took place at KICC in Nairobi on December 2  2014. The meeting started on time, and with good attendance, and the set-up was different with the ‘speaker’ (primarily the Chairperson) using a lectern as opposed to answering questions while seated.

Some highlights:

  • Maize milling is not very profitable due to tax evading competition at the county level and has been brought back in-house to control the consistency of quality and supply. Also, Unga has implemented new Route-to-Market strategies and is opening up stores/warehouses that sell exclusively Unga products to overcome distribution problems in some areas.
  • Unga wants to become a ‘nutrition company’ versus remaining a miller. Therefore Unga has ventured into selling cereals e.g. beans, green grams, etc packaged under ‘Amana’ to attract high-end shoppers.
  • Unga got shareholder approval to buy 52% of Ennsvalley Bakery which retails its products through high-end outlets e.g. Nakumatt. Unga’s board (CEO spoke on this) feels Unga can revamp the firm to expand rapidly with a larger product range. The purchase of 52% in Ennsvalley is being financed by the proceeds from the sale of its 51% stake in Bullpak (for Kshs. 335M) and additional cash from internal operations. Unga will also loan additional funds to Ennsvalley at 15%.
  • There were interesting (& relevant) questions including the feeling that the sale of Bullpak was ‘cheap’ given the profitability of Bullpak. Some shareholders questioned the high purchase price multiples of Ennsvalley given the low sale price multiple of Bullpak. (Bullpak was a cash cow vs the cash hog Ennsvalley will be for a few years). Also, one of the Unga directors had to declare his interest in Ennsvalley though the extent of his family’s ownership wasn’t stated.
  • There was a discussion on GMOs and the MD said that, by seeing world trends, it is just a matter of time before the Government of Kenya has little choice but to approve GMO cereals especially if the region suffers extended drought conditions.
  • SWAG? No more bales of flour to be given to shareholders as the cost is too high on a per shareholder basis. This decision was made in earlier years and will remain so in the future.