Government To Import Maize Amid Drought Concerns

The Kenyan government is set to import two million bags of maize to stuck up the strategic grain reserve.

Agriculture Secretary Willy Bett said there was no immediate threat of food shortage but the extra two million bags of maize would enable the strategic grain reserve meet demands as the drought continues to hit parts of the country.

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He said:

”As we speak now we are restocking. We want to purchase immediately two million bags of maize and that is basically to take care of the strategic grain reserve,” 

The drought situation is particularly bad in the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya, which routinely experience this throughout the year.

The worst hit areas are Kilifi, Tana River, Marsabit, Mandera, Samburu, Isiolo, Garissa, Kitui, Wajir and Taita Taveta.

According to the ministry, the strategic reserve currently has 1.5 million bags of maize, which would not be enough to sustain requirements from the country.

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The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) is also facing challenges in stocking up its reserves because north rift farmers are protesting the low pay for their produce.

Farmers are demanding at least KSh 3,000 for a 90kg bag of maize against the KSh 2,300 being offered. The NCPB however, holds 9.5 million bags of maize which would be used to meet the country’s demand.

Other grains being held in the strategic grain reserves include a million bags of rice, 2.3 million bags of wheat and 1.2 million bags of beans.

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The current drought is expected to impact this year’s harvest – a shortfall of nine million bags of maize – according to projections.

Government statistics announced indicate that about 1.3 million Kenyans would be at risk of famine due to the prolonged drought.