Governors blame low agricultural output on poor weather

CoG Chair Martin Wambora during the State of Devolution address 2022 at the Movenpick Hotel, Westlands, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Council of Governors (CoG) Chairman Martin Wambora has blamed the low agricultural output on poor climatic conditions.

Wambora said the Financial Year 2021/2022 recorded low production of maize, coffee, and tea, attributing the situation to insufficient rainfall.

“The drop in performance is attributed to erratic and poorly distributed long rains, inadequate short rains decrease in maize production,” he said.

Speaking on Friday, July 8, in Nairobi during the State of Devolution address, the Embu County boss highlighted the progress made by devolved county governments in the last year.

He noted that the agricultural sector realised a growth of 5.1 per cent, a minor drop of 0.1 per cent compared to previous years.

Maize production decreased from 42.1 million bags in 2020 to 36.7 million bags in 2021.

The CoG also noted that coffee production declined by six per cent, from 36.9 thousand tonnes between FY2019/20, to 34.5 thousand tonnes in FY2020/21. Tea production declined by 5.6 per cent.

He however said that regardless of the challenges, there was some progressive performance.

The volume of sugarcane deliveries to factories increased from 6.8million tonnes in 2020 to 7.8million tonnes in 2021, while the volume of agricultural exports increased by 4.5 per cent. 

During the review period, the volume of marketed milk increased by 26.6 per cent with the overall value of marketed agricultural production increasing by 4.3 per cent.

In the FY 2021/22, Wambora said county governments allocated Sh36.5 billion to the Agricultural sector, representing 11 per cent of their budget.

His statement comes even as Kenyans grapple with the high cost of living.

The cost of basic commodities including cooking oil, maize flour, wheat flour, and sugar has doubled in recent weeks, putting pressure on households struggling to make ends meet.

Government Spokesperson Cyrus Oguna, in a previous address, said the government had suspended all import duties and levies on maize imports and animal feed for two months.

Oguna said the move seeks to cushion Kenyans against the high cost of living and help boost food security.

According to Oguna, the high cost of living has been occasioned by unforeseen factors including the Covid-19 pandemic as well as prolonged drought characterised by the invasion of locusts in some parts of the country.

 “Individual businessmen are free to bring in the maize to bridge the anticipated deficit of 2.2 million bags. The waiver is only for 540,000 metric tons of white maize,” he announced.