Lawmakers question move to bring in grain when farmers have plenty

MPs pored through both the importation debate and the legalisation of GMOs. [iStockphoto]

Members of Parliament Tuesday took the maize importation to the floor of House with members demanding the government shelves the plan until proper deliberations are undertaken.

During the plenary session when they adjourned normal house business to debate a motion by Mosop MP Abraham Kirwa the leaders pored through both the importation debate and the legalisation of GMOs.

Kirwa said the timing of the decision by the government to import maize during the harvest season would not only lead to financial ramifications to farmers but also distort market prices.

“Why can’t we buy maize from neighboring countries that are not GMO maize instead of GMO maize if there is indeed a genuine maize shortage?” posed Kirwa.

“We should halt importation of the GMO maize until there is a clear way forward,” he added.

Mathare MP Anthony Oluoch accused the government of side-stepping Parliament in matters of GMO.

“A decision as serious as lifting the ban on the GMO has to have the seal of approval of this House. The lifting of the ban was however done without our input and we do not support it,” said Oluoch.

Minority Leader  Opiyo Wandayi said there were reasons that led to the Kibaki government banning GMO foods.

“We expect the President to come forward with his cabinet and tell us what has changed since then and why the rush to import GMO,” said Wandayi.

Suffering from hunger

Earlier, Pokot South MP David Pkosing sought a statement from the Leader of the Majority regarding the planned importation of maize.

He argued that while millions of Kenyans were suffering from hunger, the move to allow imports will jeopardise farmers who are already harvesting or are due to harvest their maize.

Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo said there was need for further research on GMOs before allowing the produce into the country.

Samburu West MP Lesuda Naisula said: “If indeed the country is facing a shortage of maize, why haven’t we seen  Agriculture CS tell the public that NCPB is open where the government will buy maize from farmers favourably. We would also want to know at what amount this maize is being imported because this is where cartels come in due to lack of transparency.”