KENYA – Maize production in Kenya increased by 38.8 percent from 34.3 million bags in 2022 to 47.6 million bags in 2023 on improved weather conditions and State interventions, latest State data estimates.

According to the Economic Survey 2024, the surge was informed by expansion in area under crop as farmers anticipated higher prices for their produce, coupled with enhanced government interventions, especially the fertilizer subsidy programme.

“This was attributed to expansion in area cropped, promise by the government to buy maize from farmers under the guaranteed minimum returns principles,” the report released by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) stated.

However, during that period, wheat production decreased by 16.1 per cent from 368,700 tonnes in 2022 to 309,500 tonnes in 2023, as farmers opted to cultivate maize farming.

The KNBS reports that in 2023, import volumes for food commodities rose significantly, except maize, following a bumper harvest.

Consequently, imported maize declined from 793,800 metric tonnes in 2022 to 507,900 metric tonnes in 2023.

Kenya to end maize imports in 2025

Meanwhile, President William Ruto has vowed that Kenya would end grain imports by 2025.

President Ruto was speaking during a meeting with Kenyans in the United States in Atlanta on May 20, signaling a significant shift in Kenya’s agricultural policy to boost local production and reduce dependency on foreign supplies. 

We are going to invest in production. By next year, we are not going to be importing a grain of maize. We will move on to rice, wheat, and in five years, the one billion dollars we use in import of edible oils,” President Ruto declared.

The president said the growing import bill, new agricultural production policies, and a favorable weather condition for maize growing are attributable to the new paradigm shift.

This bold initiative could significantly impact Kenya’s primary maize suppliers, particularly Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia, potentially altering regional trade dynamics.

Ruto’s administration aims to bolster domestic agricultural production through enhanced investment and policy support.

In order to end maize imports, Kenya must produce in excess of 60 million bags of maize annually to meet the demand that stood at 50 million bags in 2019 and is projected to grow to 60 million bags by 2025.

Kenya’s annual production target has been 40 million bags or approximately 3.6 million tons. 

The President praised the steady decline in the price of two-kilogram maize flour, attributing the improvement to increased production and government initiatives.

We will not relent in making investments in agriculture, whether it’s popular or not,” Ruto stated.

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