Kenya – In anticipation of the impending El Nino phenomenon, the government has allocated KES2 billion (US$13.5M) for the acquisition of grain dryers to mitigate against post-harvest losses during the harvesting season.
Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria revealed this during the University of Eldoret’s annual agribusiness tour where the country basket lies, noting that the driers will enable farmers to dry their maize amid the rainfall weather.
Earlier, President Ruto had said that the government has committed to providing 100 driers, strategically distributed to various National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) centers for farmers to higher at affordable rates.
“It is our initial and primary intervention to mitigate post-harvest losses, which account for 30% of the produce harvested in the country, this rate can increase with the onset of expected El Nini rains,” said the president.
Ruto was responding to calls by cereal growers who have been pleading with the government to avail drying equipment at the grassroots level to cushion them from losses.
Sources also hinted that the government plans to purchase one million bags of maize for the national food reserve, as the country cushions itself from potential future shortages.
State eyes 40 million bags of maize this season
Meanwhile, the government 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 Harsama Kello, the Crop Development Principal Secretary.
Kello was speaking at the 4th Phytosanitary Conference themed “Enhancing phytosanitary systems for Trade Facilitation, Climate-Smart Agriculture, and Sustainable Livelihoods” held in Nairobi on September 18, 2023.
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.
In Kenya, maize production has steadily declined in recent years driven by drought, land subdivision, poor quality of fertilizer, land overuse, and high cost of inputs with production reducing from a high of 44.6 million bags in 2018 to just 34.3 million in 2022.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that the country harvested 34.3 million bags of maize last year, a significant drop from the 36.7 million bags harvested in the previous season.
The disbursement of subsidized fertilizer by President William Ruto has been cited as one of the reasons for higher anticipated output during the ongoing harvesting season.
“Low production of key food crops such as maize, potatoes, and vegetables was evident from the significantly high prices observed in 2022,” noted KNBS.