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Musalia Mudavadi disagrees with CS Kuria over maize imports

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

It is now clear that the Ruto administration is not reading from the same script on matters of maize.

Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi says the importation of maize should be shelved until the Ministry of Agriculture takes stock of the grain harvest in the country to establish if there will be a deficit.

In an interview with The Standard on Sunday, Mr Mudavadi maintained that the order to import maize should have originated from the Ministry of Agriculture and not the Trade, Investment, and Industry docket.

“The issue of importation maize should be guided by a survey by the Ministry of Agriculture to find out if there is a deficit of the grains, that is a policy that must be well canvassed. It is the Agriculture docket that will issue an importation order after looking at the food situation in the county,” said Mudavadi.

Trade, Investment, and Industry Cabinet Secretary (CS) Moses Kuria kicked off the storm recently when he said the government will allow the importation of 10 million bags of duty-free Genetically Modified Crops (GMO) and non-GMO maize for the next six months.

Mr Kuria said the move was meant to address the biting food shortage.

The announcement by the CS was met with opposition from MPs in maize-growing areas with Pokot South MP David Pkosing threatening to collect signatures to impeach Kuria if he goes ahead with the planned importation.

Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi has not commented on the raging maize debate despite the matter being domiciled in his ministry.

Mudavadi said that any policy directive by the CSs should be get geared towards helping President William Ruto’s vision of making Kenya better.

“The President has plans of making the country a better place and turning around the economy and putting money into people’s pockets, the role of those in government is to help him realise his missions and vision for Kenya, and therefore the role of CSs is to support him,” he said.

In the past, the Agriculture CS has been gazetting the importation of maize. Last week, CS Kuria said farmers were hoarding about 20 million bags of maize.

“It is estimated that farmers are sitting on 20 million bags of maize. Let them release it to the millers. You can call me if no miller is buying your maize,” the CS tweeted.

Over 35 million bags

He projected that farmers were expected to harvest 35 million bags of maize in the next two weeks.

According to Kuria, if the farmers sell their maize to the millers on time, the government will not have to import maize.

On Sunday, the Trade CS directed farmers to sell their maize to millers within 72 hours failure to which the government will go ahead and import maize.

Based on Ministry of Agriculture data, every Kenyan is estimated to eat one bag of maize per year and therefore if farmers harvest 35 million bags as projected by the Trade CS, then the country will have enough stock to take it through to August 2023.

Some counties which took advantage of the short rains are expected to harvest more maize early next year, which means the country will have enough stock.