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House committee says 4m Kenyans starve annually

By Antony Gitonga                     

Four million Kenyans suffer from starvation every year, the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture John Mututho has said.

Mututho said over half of the country’s population does not get adequate food as the government is yet to fully address food security in the country.

“Every year, four million Kenyans suffer from starvation and there are fears of the number rising if the food situation is not fully addressed,” he said.

The Naivasha MP attributed the food insecurity in the country to corruption, poverty, abuse of office and poor government policy.

“Kenya has the potential of feeding its citizen and the neighboring countries but unfortunately we are forced to rely on foreign donations,” he said.

He attributed the food shortage to cartels of traders who controlled the maize, sugar and wheat flour sectors.

He noted that four families controlled 67 percent of the maize milling industry while another three were in charge of the sugar sector.

“It’s possible to give Kenyans maize flour at Sh36 per kilo but due to the vested interest in the sector and malpractices many are sleeping hungry,” he said.

The MP was addressing journalists in Naivasha after arriving from Sydney Australia where he attended a meeting on food security in the region.

He noted that the only way of addressing the food situation was increasing land under irrigation noting that China was a good example.

Mututho challenged the government to invest more in the National Irrigation Board for the country to be self sufficient in food production.

On Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), the legislator welcomed the decision by the government to ban the imports terming the move as timely.

He insisted that GMOs were harmful and warned traders still selling such products that they faced arrest and jail sentences.

“I still continue to insist that GMOs are harmful and what the country needs is better quality of seeds for higher production,” he said.