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Government maize Purchase a record high in the last five years 

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The government intends to bring down the price of maize flour back to the KSh 90 when the commodity enjoyed subsidies on imports.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe said plans were underway to bring down the price from the current Ksh 110 and 11.

He said the 100 percent food security and nutrition initiative under the four pillars by the Jubilee Government in its second term, focus will be done by utilizing all the productive public and private land in the country.

“We will also be focusing more on irrigation that can give two crops in a season unlike rain-fed which only gives one crop per season,” he said.

The PS  who was speaking in his office further said the government is putting in mechanisms such as water harvesting and is asking Kenyans to make use of any available water to produce food.

“We are working closely with the new Agriculture Cabinet secretary who will soon give a blue print of how the government intends to improve production of most of the stable foods in Kenya including maize, rice, potatoes and wheat and other cash crops.

This might be a longshot but it will be done progressively to see to it that food prices come down in the next four or five years, Lesiyampe said

The PS said that the government has so far purchased 2.7 million, 90kg bags of maize, a record high in the last five years, the highest amount of maize the government has managed to purchase through the National Cereals and Produce Board from farmers in any season.

“The 2017/18 season has been very encouraging compared to the last four seasons where we have only been able to purchase about two million of bags annually”, he said in an interview in his office

Lesiyampe noted that governments target for the National Strategic Reserve is usually four million bags as the country consumes three million bags monthly. “I am optimistic we will hit three million bags by the end of the month,” he said

He confirmed that the government had received Sh6.8 billion and later requested for an additional Sh1.9 billion, Out of the total of 8.7 billion allocated, the government still owes farms Ksh3.7 million for the latest deliveries .

Since October last year when government started buying maize from small scale farmers more than 4 billion has been spent.

In October last year, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the government had set aside Sh6.8 billion to buy maize from farmers at Sh3,200 per 90kg bag.

“The government is yet to conclude on the assessment of the food balance sheet since NCPB, traders and millers are still buying from farmers””, Lesiyampe said.

This, he said should be concluded by end of this month and it will  be able to give an indication and projection on how long the maize we have will take us.

“For now  we have enough maize and with the price of between Sh2, 800 to Sh3, 200 per 90Kg, there is no reason why a two-kilo packet of flour should go beyond Sh115,” said Lesiyampe.

However Lesiyampe said that incase of any maize shortage, the government will take appropriate measures to ensure that millers have adequate supply so they can maintain affordable prices of Unga to consumers.

The PS  has called upon retailers selling a 2kg packet of maize flour at more than Sh115 to even Sh120 in the estates not to exploit Kenyans.

“It is unfortunate for traders to take advantage and exploit Kenyans while we have adequate supply of maize especially between January-February-March . Let us not allow greed to push us exploit Kenyans”, Lesiyampe said

By Wangari Ndirangu

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