KENYA – Farmers Party of Kenya, has moved to the High Court and filed a case against the Minister of Agriculture over its decision to contract Zambian farmers to carry out large-scale cultivation of maize for export to Kenya.
According to the party, the move by the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) to contract Zambian farmers was “unreasonable, irrational, and illegal and in gross violation of the Constitution of Kenya.”
This comes after bilateral talks between the two countries spearheaded by Kenya’s Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mithika Linturi and his Zambian counterpart Reuben Mtolo.
According to Linturi, the move would lead to the reduction of the cost of maize and its products in the country and collectively lead to the realization of food and nutrition security following that Kenya has been battling with an acute shortage of maize that has pushed maize prices to record highs.
However, through Chege Kamau Advocates, the Farmers Party argues that the decision is tantamount to an admission of dereliction of duty by CS Linturi to support and provide enabling infrastructure for Kenyan farmers to produce food locally.
The petition names Attorney General of Kenya Justin Muturi and CS Linturi as the first and second respondents respectively.
Farmers Party, in the petition further avers that it is illogical for the government to contract the Republic of Zambia to do maize farming for export to Kenya, in lieu of supporting the local farmers to produce qualitatively and quantitatively as Agriculture is the backbone of the Kenyan economy.
Wrong timing? Zambia’s Finance minister says there is no maize for Kenya
Meanwhile, as Kenya schemes contracting Zambian farmers to grow maize exclusively for the Kenyan market, Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane, Zambia’s Finance Minister has come out to say that the southern African country will not be exporting the grain to Kenya this season due to its own shortages of the grain.
Dr. Situmbeko was speaking in an interview with Nation Africa on the sidelines of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings in Washington DC.
Interestingly, he said that Zambia will instead be importing maize to supplement shortfalls occasioned by a poor harvest last season.
“I think we all know that there has been a shortage of maize, especially in border areas near Tanzania, Congo, and Malawi. In the most immediate response, the government decided that we allow importation to supplement whatever we have so that shortages can be alleviated,” said Dr. Musokotwane
Regarding Zambians planting maize crops for the Kenyan market, the minister said he was yet to be fully briefed by his Agriculture colleague Mtolo Phiri.
He added that a critical maize shortage has also hit some parts of Zambia with consumers queuing to buy the staple commodity, prompting President Hakainde Hichilema to activate an emergency response to alleviate the situation.
The Farmers Party of Kenya has, therefore, urged the Ministry of Agriculture to provide farm inputs during the planting season to enable farmers to produce enough maize instead of seeking alternatives from the South African nation.
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