President Ruto predicts surplus maize harvest

Maize harvesting for silage making at Kaptuli farm in Uasin Gishu County on November 8, 2022. [Christopher kipsang, Standard]

Kenya is on course to meet national demand for maize, and could even have a surplus.

President William Ruto said from the long rains alone, the country is expected to harvest 44 million bags, compared to last year’s 32 million bags.

The president noted that in 2017, Kenya produced 39.6 million bags of maize. In 2018, production rose to 44.6 million bags but later slumped to 39.7 million bags in 2019. In 2021, 40.2 million bags were produced and 43 million bags last year.

"As a result of effectively administered strategic interventions, we are definitely on course to meet the national demand. The total amount spent so far on the fertiliser subsidy programme is a small fraction of the annual cost of consumption subsidies, and yet its impact is nothing short of tremendous," said Ruto.

Heavy rains were also reordered countrywide, boosting production.

Speaking at State House, Nairobi, yesterday, the President admitted that life has been difficult for millions of Kenyans due to unemployment, low income and the rising cost of essential commodities.

"Scarcity of essential food items drove the cost of food as a share of household expenditure to 54 per cent on average," he said.

The Head of State said the agriculture contributed greatly to employment, income, foreign exchange, cost of living and industrialisation.

He said importation of food items and expenditure on subsidies, including duty waivers, were depleting the country's foreign exchange and exerting budgetary pressure without attacking the fundamental productivity problem.

The President defended his decision to remove subsidies, saying: "Instead, we started investing in agriculture, the country’s biggest employer, largest contributor to our GDP and the mainstay of the rural economies."

"For the first time in more than a decade, fertiliser reached farmers in time to prepare for planting and, in that time, we delivered 2,000,000 50kg bags," he said.

He said his government delivered 3,536,162 bags of crop- specific and region-specific fertilisers, registered more than 5 million farmers and issued 3,628,512 e-vouchers.

"By cutting out brokers, middlemen and other intermediaries, we have eradicated corruption and inefficiency from the programme in order to concentrate maximum benefits on the farmer," he said.

Ruto announced that the commencement of the second phase of the programme brings down the price of fertiliser from Sh3,500 to Sh2,500 per 50 kg bag.

The President disclosed the Government has increased the budget for the Agriculture Finance Corporation from Sh2 billion to Sh10 billion to facilitate affordable credit to farmers.

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