The government has said it has enough food to sustain the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic, despite numerous reports suggesting otherwise.
Anne Nyaga, the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) at the Ministry of Agriculture, said that planned maize imports would fill the gap the country is expected to experience between the months of June and July 2020.
“Farmers across the country are selling their maize to various millers at market rates and this is proof that there is enough local supply for the current demand of maize from the last season’s harvest,” Ms Nyaga said.
Currently, the food balance sheet on the ministry’s website states that there will be an anticipated surplus of 3,450,869 (90kg) bags of maize, anticipated surplus of 2,577,915 bags of beans, anticipated surplus of 737,822 bags of wheat and an anticipated surplus of 411,580 bags of rice by end of June.
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The ministry also said that it is in the process of getting rid of 124,625 (50kg) bags of condemned maize stocks declared unfit for human and animal consumption due to aflatoxin contamination.
“I want to confirm that we have enough food up to the month of June, and after the month of June, we expect to be having the harvest because it’s raining,” said Tharaka Nithi county governor Muthomi Njuki, speaking on behalf of the Council of Governors.
The governor also said the anticipated deficit between the month of June and the time of the crop’s expected maturity has been addressed through the planned importation of two million bags of white maize for the millers and two million bags of yellow maize for feeds.
Owing to the role of livestock trade on the spread of the coronavirus, the ministry has also shut down six major livestock markets.
“All confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Wajir County were related to livestock trade,” Nyaga said.
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All livestock markets along Kenya-Tanzania and Kenya-Somalia borders, Narok County, Kwale County, Taita Taveta County and Dif and Dagahaley markets in Wajir as well as Shambole market in Namanga will be shut indefinitely.
Traders will be able to access livestock for trade informally from individuals.
The ministry also noted increase in the prices of cereals, specifically maize and rice, due to the disruption of the markets and the transport system.
“The increase in rice prices is as a direct result of reduced imports from countries such as Pakistan. As we work on stabilising the prices, we have also put measures in place to increase local rice production through Kenya National Trading Cooperation (KNTC) which is now strengthened to buy rice from farmers and farmer cooperatives.”
Ms Nyaga further said that rice farmers have already received Sh165 million for produce already delivered to KNTC depots.
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In response to the Covid-19 effects on the fisheries sub-sector, the ministry will be providing fish drying racks for various fish species such as omena in Lake Victoria, tilapia and catfish in Lake Turkana and Victoria and sardines in the Indian Ocean.
“The ministry will commence support to urban, peri-urban and rural areas for establishment of backyard fish feed cottage industries which will result in availability of quality cheap feeds,” she said.
The government has also put in additional guidelines for sausage makers and mobile sausage vendors.