The Kenyan Maize Scandal Timeline

Early 2008

Maize yields and stocks significantly low due to the destruction of close to 3.5 million bags of maize during the post-election violence, which also reduced the area under maize production by 30 per cent.

Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) fertiliser skyrocket by 240%.

June 2008

High cost of petrol internationally results in high costs of transport and inputs, in turn causing the price of maize and related products to shoot up from Ksh48 (US cents 64) for a 2kg packet of flour to a high of Ksh130 ($1.73).

July 2008 - June 2009

The estimated shortfall in maize production over the period hits 11.5 million bags.

September 2008

Grain millers and traders ask the government to ease grain importation rules and taxes so as to bring down food prices.

November 2008

Cabinet approves the importation of 5 million bags of maize to mitigate the looming crisis. The first consignment arrives in Mombasa in October 2008. The maize originates from South Africa and US.

Allegations about possible shoddy dealings in the handling of maize start to emerge as a cabinet committee headed by the Prime Minister launches investigation.

December 2008

Media reports reveal that farmers are hoarding maize in protest against the government's decision to fix the price of the crop at a much lower rate than what is paid for imports. The government was paying about Kshs 3,000 ($40) for every sack of imported maize but paid KShs 1,950 ($26) to local farmers for the same quantity of grain.

The government designs a plan to supply cheap maize flour but the plan runs into trouble amid allegations of corruption.

Newspaper reports allege the loss of 100,000 bags of maize. The Cereal Millers Association spokesperson claims that only 40,000 bags pf the 144,000 bags of maize set aside by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) had reached its members and queries the destination of the other 100,000 bags.

The government waives duty on imported maize as five out of six managers of the NCPB are sacked by Agriculture Minister William Ruto over allegations of corruption.

The grain shortage reaches emergency levels as over 10 million people are reported to be facing starvation.

February 2009

Special programmes Permanent Secretary Ali Mohamed announces that the government is set to release 200,000 bags of maize to the famine relief programme from the Strategic Grain Reserve (SGR).

Trustees of the SGR authorise allocations to millers reducing its stocks to levels far below the required 4 million bags, thus exposing the country to severe famine in case of any shortfalls in production.

Following press reports, MPs admit to buying maize from the NCPB as well as writing letters requesting for allocations to individuals known to them. Some of the MPs claimed that they requested for the allocations after hearing that their colleagues were doing the same.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga orders a forensic audit of the National Cereals and Produce Board to establish the magnitude of the maize scandal

March 2009

Maize imported by the government continues to arrive at the port of Mombasa.

April 2009

Parliament's Departmental on Agriculture, Lands and Natural Reosurces calls for investigations to be carried out on the alleged role played by the Prime Minister's family in the maize scandal.

May 2009

Controversy emerges about the suitability of part of the imported maize for human consumption amidst revelations that 6,000 tonnes of imported maize is contaminated

The Ministry of Public Health issues a public alert over the circulation of contamintaed maize reported missing from Grain Bulk Handlers Ltd

MPs absolve the Prime Minister, his family and his office from blame in the maize scandal by deleting clauses in the Departmental Committee on Agriculture, Lands and Natural Resources Report that had linked them to the scandal. The entire report is also rejected on grounds that it was "politically engineered" and was "absolutely clumsy"

June 2009

Government makes arrangements for the condemned maize to be shipped back to the country of origin.

February 2010

A government commissioned audit report by PriceWaterhouse Coopers reveals massive irregularities in the Subsidised Maize Scheme, This results in the sacking or resignation of eight top officials, including three Permanent Secretaries— Dr Romano Kiome (Agriculture), Ali Mohamed (Speciai Programmes), and Dr Mohammed Isahakia (Prime Minister's office) — as well as the PM's chief of staff Caroli Omondi, the managing director of the National Cereals and Produce Board Prof Gideon Misoi, NCPB sales and marketing manager James Boit and Mr Robert Langat

An attempt by the Prime Minister to suspend the Minister for Agriculture (and his Education for a separate, unrelated scandal) flops after President Kibaki declares that the PM has exceeded his authority Tensions within the governing coalition rise to breaking point.

Source: The East African

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