Having been affected by non-tariff barriers, Kenya’s maize imports from Tanzania declined to 63% of the total imports in the 2022/2023 marketing year, down from 97% in 2021/2022.

According to a new report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Kenyan traders diversified their maize imports from Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, and South Africa. However, imports from Tanzania decreased due to export restrictions imposed by Dodoma.

The Tanzanian restrictions on maize exports required exporters to Kenya to obtain export certificates.

The report notes, “Kenyan traders have started to procure more corn from non-traditional sources like Zambia and South Africa.”


Having historically relied on Tanzania for the majority of our imported corn, we faced challenges in exporting corn from Tanzania due to new export procedures. The Government of Tanzania has previously imposed export bans or restricted access to export permits during periods of low domestic supplies.

Imports from Zambia and South Africa surged to 13% and 10%, respectively, up from 1% and 0.38%.

Maize imports from Uganda accounted for 5% of the total maize imports, up from 0.36%.

In absolute terms, our maize imports from Tanzania decreased by 41.78% to 412,755 tonnes in the 2022/2023 marketing year, down from 708,978 tonnes in MY 2021/2022 — a 97% decline. Conversely, imports from Zambia soared eightfold to 88,050 tonnes from 10,728 tonnes, while imports from South Africa surged by 2,218.94% to 64,513 tonnes from 2,782 tonnes. Imports from Uganda increased by 1,215.7% to 34,590 tonnes from 2,629 tonnes.

We maintain a steep ad-valorem import duty of 50% for maize from outside the EAC, aligning with the EAC Common External Tariff, while maize imported from EAC countries enjoys duty-free access.

In a gazette notice, Kenya’s Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u initiated a window for Kenyan traders to import 900,000 tonnes of white maize duty-free from countries outside the East African Community. This move aimed to alleviate shortages caused by a decline in local production.

These imports were meant to complement the 5.4 million 90kg bags as carryover stocks from June 2023 and the estimated long rains harvest of 19.7 million bags.

Four months after the duty-free maize importation window opened on February 1, 2023, only 259,470 tonnes of maize, representing 28.83% of the targeted imports, entered the country. Most of these imports came from the EAC, as per Ministry of Agriculture data.

Several factors, such as the global rise in grain prices, issuance of import permits to financially questionable companies, and a High Court decision to halt the importation of genetically modified products, hindered the state’s efforts to reduce the cost of living.