NAIROBI – President Ruto’s promise of affordable Unga is facing the harsh reality of market forces. In May 2023, his administration announced the release of a 2-kilogram bag of Unga at Sh150 to Sh200, aimed at easing the economic strain on Kenyan households. However, this affordable option seems to have vanished from supermarket aisles only weeks later.
Ruto, in his announcement, specifically named Quickmart and Naivas Supermarkets as the venues where consumers would find these lower-priced options. He voiced optimism, saying, “This is a democracy and you can do what you want to do. I will continue working hard because there are some millers who want to play with us but I will go toe to toe with them until we make sure every citizen has a right to access food that is quality, that is enough for their families.”
Yet, as of June 7, 2023, the affordable 2-kilogram Unga options are nowhere to be found. Prices are now edging towards Sh250, with some brands already exceeding this threshold. A survey conducted at Naivas Kenyatta Avenue revealed the following price points for 2-kilogram maize meal flour bags:
- Amaize at Sh250
- Pembe at Sh227
- Jogoo at Sh235
- Soko at Sh230
- Mama at Sh220
- Raha at Sh269.
Comparatively, prices in mid-May, end of May, and now in early June, reveal a noticeable upward trend. Jogoo, for instance, rose from Sh208 to Sh195 and now Sh235. Pembe jumped from Sh208 to Sh195, and now Sh227. Soko increased from Sh207 to Sh215, and now stands at Sh230. Amaize saw a slight rise from Sh249 to Sh247 and is now at Sh250. Mama’s price went from Sh198 to Sh204 and now Sh220.
Ugali, made from maize meal flour, is a dietary cornerstone for many Kenyan families. The escalating cost of this staple ingredient, now hitting unprecedented highs since the days of Sh80 to Sh100 per bag, poses a significant challenge.
The steep price rise is fuelling public discontent and opposition protests against the government’s perceived failure to control the surging cost of living. President Ruto’s campaign vows to confront this issue early in his tenure are yet to bear tangible results, causing widespread concern across the nation.