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Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries ministry seeks Sh2.6b from the National Treasury to boost maize reserves

NEWS
By Nicholas Waitathu | February 10th 2015
Lorries line up to deliver maize at Unga Mills in Eldoret despite NCPB closing the depot. New study indicates per capita consumption of maize dropping from 98kg to 78kg. [PHOTO: Nelson Kipruto]

Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries ministry is seeking Sh2.6 billion from the National Treasury to procure maize from farmers.

This will be the second allocation to the ministry, if granted in the current financial year. This is after exhausting the Sh2.7 billion allocated by the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich during the budget day last year June.

Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei yesterday confirmed that the ministry will seek for more funds to procure 1.3 million bags from farmers before the end of the current harvest in the food-basket North Rift region. He said Sh2.7 billion allocated to the cause in the current financial year to buy maize from the farmers has been exhausted.

“We need more cash to buy maize from farmers with the view to boost the Government granaries. This will help us shield the country against likely starvation before the next harvest expected in June this year,” Koskei said in Nairobi, yesterday.

“The available stock with farmers, traders and incoming maize through cross border trading  is estimated to be 16 million bags hence sufficient until June this year, while National Cereals and Produce Board is holding 3.7 million 90kg bags that usually last for over a month,” he stated.

Eating habits

The cabinet secretary noted that the availability of food in the country is supported by the changing eating habits. “With the changing eating habits, which now indicates per capita consumption of maize dropping from 98kg to 78kg, the estimates of maize availability seem to be sufficient.” He allayed fears that the country is facing food shortage, noting that the available stock is enough to feed the nation up to June, when the next harvest is expected to start.

“There is enough food stock to feed the country up to June this year before the start of the next harvest,” said Koskei. “The maize in stock is 3.7 million 90kg bags. The maize still expected to be delivered by farmers is 1.3 million 50 kg bags.”

Late last year, the Government announced maize prices of Sh2,300 per 90kg bag and a rebate of Sh500 per bag as compensation to the challenges of climate change among other challenges. While farmers accused the Government of setting low prices and demanded an increase, Koskei said the prices were arrived at after wide consultations with industry stakeholders.

Some counties in central Kenya and eastern region also are likely to register reduced harvest, owing to inadequate rainfall experienced in the last few months.

“We expect there will be no interruption in terms of feeding the nation. There will be food available to feed the nation before the next harvest,” noted Agriculture Principal Secretary Sicily Kariuki.

Ms Kariuki assured that the Government is instituting tough measures to ensure the country is food sufficient.

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