KENYA – Kenya plans to purchase at least 1 million bags of maize from local farmers as part of the nation’s Strategic Food Reserve strategy to cushion future eventualities.
This follows a dispatch that followed a Cabinet meeting held at the Kakamega State Lodge and chaired by President William Ruto.
According to The Star, the cabinet agreed that farmers must get a fair price for their produce adding that the Ministry of Agriculture will announce the off-take price upon the conclusion of consultations with stakeholders.
Besides the purchase of maize at a fair price, the Cabinet also directed the Ministry of Agriculture to provide mobile driers to farmers to tame post-harvest losses and further sanctioned the expedited implementation of the Warehouse Receipting System.
A warehouse receipt system (WRS) would enable farmers to deposit their grains in exchange for a warehouse receipt to avert losses that may be occasioned by poor storage.
The Cabinet noted that maize farmers are this year expecting a bumper harvest owing to the subsidized fertilizer they received during the cropping season.
In cognizance of the short rain season, the Cabinet also approved the framework for enhanced production and distribution of certified seeds to farmers.
This will see county governments provide grassroots supply outlets where registered farmers will easily access certified seeds.
The government, therefore, has called on farmers who didn’t register themselves during the first wave to take advantage of the fresh ongoing enumeration exercise to benefit from subsidy and seed program.
“The meeting also approved the partnership between the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) and County Governments for “Last Mile” distribution of subsidized government fertilizer that is retailing at Sh2,500,” the dispatch said.
For Kenya, the move is timely as the country has been grappling with an acute shortage of staple commodities linked to prolonged drought and high fertilizer prices which impacted local production and drove prices to new highs.
As a result, data by the National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in a recently released Economic Survey 2023 shows that Kenya has imported more than 520,000 tonnes of maize in the last two years, an increase of 190.2 percent.
However, the government is hopeful that various raft measures laid to increase local production will shield the country from huge import bills in the future.