KENYA – Zambia has agreed to allow Kenyan farmers to conduct large-scale maize farming within its territory provided they export their products back to their home country; Lusaka Times has reported.
The move is the culmination of bilateral talks between the two countries spearheaded by Kenya’s Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mithika Linturi and his Zambian counterpart Reuben Mtolo.
Speaking during the meeting, Linturi said the two countries will put to pen a memorandum of understanding that will see Kenyan farmers allocated 20,000 hectares of land for large-scale farming.
Zambia’s government has also accepted to supply Kenya with its surplus maize as a short-term measure to boost local supplies and stabilize prices.
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.
“I am happy the Zambian government has agreed to offer Kenyan farmers land for large-scale farming in Zambia. Kenyan farmers will in turn be required to export their yields back to Kenya to boost our food supply and security,” he stated
Kenya has been battling with an acute shortage of maize that has pushed maize prices to record highs.
A 90Kg bag which used to retail at around KES2700 in 2020 now sells for KES5,600 while a 2Kg maize meal that previously sold for KES 90 has doubled in price and currently retails at between KES190 and KES230.
The government has made various attempts including removing the ban on GM food and ordering duty free maize to shore up supply and reduce price but none of these efforts has borne fruit.
Still the government is unrelenting in its efforts to bring down the maize prices. It has re-introduced subsidies for maize fertilizer and is working to ensure the much-awaited 10 million bags of duty free maize arrive in Kenya.
The government also recently opened up the Galana-Kulalu irrigation scheme to private investors with the hope of spurring local production of the commodity.
Twiga Foods, a leading agr-tech firm, has already been allocated some 20,000 acres in the expansive scheme for maize production.
According to the PS for Agriculture, Twiga Foods and other private investors seeking to farm in Galana-Kulalu will be first required to plant maize in the first season before exploring any other crops of their wishes.
“National Irrigation Authority will now play a supervisory role by ensuring that everything is moving on as planned,” the PS said.
“The development of the scheme, which they have been doing before, will now be left to private investors.”