The agriculture regulator has frozen further imports of wheat until millers exhaust 250,000 bags of the produce that is currently with the farmers in upper Narok.
Agriculture and Food Authority (Afa) Director-General Kello Harsama says millers have so far bought 300,000 bags from farmers at the set minimal price, but they are yet to exhaust the allocated quota under a local purchase programme.
Under the programme, millers are required to buy all the locally-produced wheat before they qualify for import permits.
“We’re going to control the imports until millers exhaust all the local crop at the agreed price,” Mr Harsama said.
Wheat imports declined by 89 per cent in June after the State directed millers to mop up all the local crop before shipping in the grain.
Data from the Agriculture ministry showed imports in July dipped to 267,000 bags from an earlier 2.5 million bags a month.
In June, the ministry issued a directive to millers to buy local wheat at Sh3,700 for a 90-kilo bag. Processors are issued with quotas based on their milling capacity and would only be given import permits after exhausting their allocation.
The quota system of buying wheat started a couple of years ago in a move to protect farmers from cheap imports.
The State predicts reduced wheat imports in the coming seasons due to growing acreage under the crop as farmers take advantage of the good prices.
Millers have so far imported five million 90-kilogramme bags of wheat out of the 20 million they had requested to be allowed to ship in to bridge the deficit.
Kenya is a net importer of wheat, bringing in two-thirds of its needs to meet annual use of over 900,000 tonnes against production of 350,000 tonnes.
Wheat imports rose 12 per cent in the first five months of the year as millers stepped up the volumes ahead of budget reading for fear that the Treasury would revise shipping taxes upwards.
The Ministry of Agriculture said wheat imports rose to 8.1 million bags during that period from 7.1 million bags in the corresponding period last year.