KENYA: The government plans to spend Sh3 billion to buy maize from farmers for the strategic grain reserve.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei said the money would buy maize currently being harvested across the country and especially from the South Rift and North Rift regions.
This is the first time that the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) will be receiving such a lumpsum amount to buy the commodity for the national reserve. NCPB will start buying maize from farmers later this month.
In the past the board was given money in instalments of Sh500 million.
Speaking in Nakuru, Koskei noted that the main farming seasons in the country had changed drastically but assured that the government was ready for any eventualities in terms of food security.
“Let me assure the nation that food security is intact and nobody should be worried”, said Koskei adding that there were 2.1 million bags of maize and beans available at the NCPB at the moment.
He, however, did not indicate how much the government would pay farmers for a 90 kilogramme bag of maize.
In the North Rift, he said farmers had started harvesting and estimated that 40 million bags of maize were expected this season alone. The Cabinet Secretary further said his ministry also expected a good harvest from the South Rift region.
The government is also introducing drought resistant crops like cassava and sweet potatoes in an effort to ensure food security in the wake of recurrent droughts.
Koskei also announced that the government was constructing water dams, especially in dry areas, to cushion farmers against water shortages during dry seasons.
Without giving figures, the Cabinet Secretary revealed that money had been set aside to buy animal feeds should there be need to provide for emergency assistance to farmers in dry parts of the country.
“Funds for stocking and re-stocking are available and government will move in during crises to buy animals before they die. We do not want to witness our farmers losing their animals when the Government has the capacity to save them,” said Koskei.
Through the fund, farmers will also access loans from institutions such as the Agricultural Finance Corporation to enable them get back to business after droughts.
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