KENYA – The government of Kenya has given an ultimatum to millers, banning them from importing wheat and maize as a measure to protect local farmers.

President William Ruto gave the order while speaking at State House on Thursday, October 5 when he met a delegation from Narok North Constituency led by its MP Agnes Pareiyo.

In a statement, President Ruto said that the move is aimed at protecting local farmers and stabilizing prices.

According to Ruto, no permits will be issued to millers to import wheat or maize into the country He said the Government will only deviate from the directive if the local produce is insufficient.

The President pointed out that the Government has set aside KES4 billion (US$27M) to purchase maize from farmers through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) this season.

The move is aimed at mitigating price fluctuations as maize farmers across the country expect a bumper harvest in the current season set to hit its peak.

“We ask our farmers not to sell their produce at throw-away prices,” Ruto emphasized.

Earlier, Harsama Kello, the Crop Development Principal Secretary announced that the state expects maize harvests of over 40 million bags in the current harvesting season, which will play a pivotal role in lowering the prices of food.

According to the PS, the anticipated bumper harvest was boosted by sufficient rainfall during the long-rain planting season and a State-backed fertilizer subsidy program.

The announcement follows the recent move by the National Cereal and Produce Board’s (NCPB) move to provide drying facilities and operational laboratories to farmers in a bid to cushion them from post-harvest losses as El Nino approaches.

To reduce post-harvest losses over high moisture, the Head of State announced that NCPB driers will be used to dry farmers’ maize at a minimal fee of KES 50. This is from a high of nearly KES 400 a bag.

“Even if farmers don’t want to sell their maize to NCPB, they will have an opportunity to dry their produce at the State agency and store it,” Ruto explained.

Also in the meeting were Governors Patrick Ole Ntutu (Narok) and Jonathan Leleliit (Samburu), Narok West MP Gabriel Tongoyo, MCAs, and grassroots leaders.