CS Kiunjuri, grain reserve boss out of touch with reality on maize
SEE ALSO :State focuses on more pyrethrum farmingAccording to the Economic Survey 2019 by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the country consumed 44.6 million bags of maize last year, translating to a per month consumption of 3.7 million bags. If you remove what is processed as animal feeds, lost during post-harvest processes or used as seed, this reduces it to the consumption of about three million bags, which is more than double what Wekesa claims is the amount of maize consumed monthly. Also notable is that Wekesa was making the pronouncements while flanked by politicians who asked the State to set aside cash for the purchase of maize from farmers. CS Kiunjuri, on the other hand, appears not to be in touch with the field officers in his ministry. He cannot tell the country how much maize the strategic reserves have or how much will be harvested during any given season, including this one, where factors such as the late onset of the long rains, were at play. He has not told the country how the ministry arrived at the figure of 12.5 million bags that need to be imported to bridge the needs gap. The CS also appears oblivious of past instances where the Government has hastily opened up maize import windows and even accorded the importer’s duty waivers only for such manoeuvres to benefit importers at the expense of Kenyans besides denying Government taxes. While reacting to Dr Wekesa’s assertions, Mr Kiunjuri was more concerned about how he should be accorded respect as CS while noting that he has the final word on the food situation in the country. Lost on him, perhaps, is that the country is discussing importing a staple food owing to his ministry’s failure to ensure that Kenya is food secure and that people have died of starvation on his watch.
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