KENYA – Data by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in the 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.

The data shows that in 2022, Kenya’s import for the staple increased by 307,226 tonnes to hit 793,751 compared to 2021 when the imports increased by 213,053 tonnes and 2020 by 44,689 tonnes.

The skyrocketing imports follow that 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.

According to Standard Media, maize is among the food items whose imports shot up in 2022 as the country recorded negative growth in agriculture for the second year running.

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Prof Njuguna Ndung’u attributed the poor agricultural performance to drought in most parts of the country.

According to executives, the last time the agriculture sector recorded positive growth was in 2020 when it expanded by 5.2 percent. In 2021, the sector recorded a negative growth of 0.3 percent and a further drop of 1.6 percent in 2022 to negative 1.9 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.

During the launch of the report, Prof Njuguna stated that the government will continue investing in irrigation to reduce dependency on rain-fed agriculture and increase the amount of land under crop production.

Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture also announced plans to finance key State corporations to put 500,000 acres of the state’s idle land under maize production in a move to spur growth in local food production.

Earlier, the state had called upon private investors for leasing the multi-billion-dollar irrigation scheme, Galana-Kulalu in a bid to spur growth in local food production

According to KNBS, the same scenario was seen in rice imports, which increased to 678,087 tonnes from 630,910 tonnes recorded in 2021.

However, for wheat, the report indicated that there was a slight drop in unmilled wheat imports from 1,889,921.9 tonnes in 2021 to 1,676,623 in 2022 even as production dropped.

For all the latest grains industry news from Africa, the Middle East and the World, subscribe to our weekly NEWSLETTERS, follow us on LinkedIn and subscribe to our YouTube channel