Mututho blames cartels over maize shortage

By Silas Mwiti 

Former chairman of the agriculture committee in parliament John Mututho has termed the current maize shortage in the country as artificial.

Mututho accused a cartel of traders and millers of hoarding the produce with a view of controlling the prices.

The former Naivasha MP spoke a day after the government unleashed the Sh90 maize flour and also introduced a Sh6.5B maize subsidy programme.

Twenty millers will be involved in the programme as the government moved ahead to allow the importation of duty free maize, milk powder and sugar.

But addressing the press in Naivasha Mututho accused a cartel for the current crisis noting that they were the main beneficiaries.

Mututho said that the cartel in cahoots with government officers had been hoarding the produce so as to control the prices.

He called on the President to use the state machinery and intelligence to unmask those who had hoarded the maize in their silos leading to the current crisis.

“When I was in parliament the same cartel was responsible for hoarding the commodity and later releasing it in the market at a high price,” he said.

He defended the government on the controversy surround the importation of maize from Mexico in a record three days.

“We have ships fully loaded with maize in Durban South Africa seeking a market and thus it’s possible to buy any consignment at the shortest time possible,” he said.

Mututho who is eyeing the seat of Nakuru governor termed the current issue of high food prices as very sensitive and worrying.

He said that while in parliament, his committee had identified five families that were controlling the sale and milling of maize in the country.

“The five families are manipulating the prices of flour despite parliament passing the monopoly act and its time the CS for agriculture took action,” he said.

During the press briefing, Mututho revisited the issue of Galana irrigation scheme accusing the management of running it down.

Mututho said that the scheme was one of the best ideas of addressing food insecurity by the Jubilee government adding that it had high potential.

He said that the scheme had the capability of producing up to 70 bags of maize per acre but this was not possible due to poor management.

“I have in the past visited the scheme and its time the management of National irrigation board which runs the scheme improved on productivity,” he said.