KENYA ELECTION – flour flurry


August 3 2022 – The Flurry for Flour


Browsing the aisles in Naivas, the only supermarket in Kilifi town, at the start of our trip to Kenya, I noticed that everybody was buying huge amounts of flour. Now, I know flour is the main ingredient of the Kenyan staple Ugali, but was it really necessary to buy in such quantities?

Discussing this with local friends, we learned people were filling their shelves for election time.

Apparently, the price is set to jump, the closer we get to polling day.

Election cycles in Kenya bring a risk of violence. So, shelves must be stocked in case the shops and markets remain closed for a few days, while any unrest passes.

Later that week, we woke one morning to the bustle of swarming crowds, across the street from our apartment.

Venturing out to see why the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) was creating such a stir, we met local shopkeeper Abdullah.

He told us the stockpiling we’d seen in Naivas was not the only pressure on flour sales.

He said the government had put a cap on the price of flour at 100ksh (around £0.70) for a 2kg bag – less than half the previous retail-price of 230ksh.

Abdullah predicted the cap and the crowds would continue until after the election. Every day, people queuing, from sunrise to sunset.

The supressed price brought reports of millers hoarding stocks, leading to shortages in shops and markets.

With stock-levels low and pre-election demand increasing there is panic buying and a sense of desperation, as seen outside the NCPB.

Back in Naivas, a few days later, and the flour-queue stretched through the store and all the way out of the door – we estimated people will have waited around two hours for a bag

Life in Kenya can be a day-to-day challenge at the best of times, but with a global grain-crisis and the pressures of geo-politics weighing heavy here, a return to post-election stability cannot come soon enough.





GH 03/08/22






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