Government maize purchase, a record high in the last five years
The government intends to bring down the price of maize flour from the current price of Sh110- Sh115 to Sh90 as it was with the subsidy program that ended in December last year.
Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe says with the 100 percent food security and nutrition initiative under the four pillars by the Jubilee Government in its second term, focus should now shift to maximum utilization of every productive public and private land in the country.
“We will also be focusing more on irrigation agriculturewhere we can harvest twice over the same period we harvest once from rain-fed agriculture,” he said.
In an interview with KNA in his office on Friday, the PS further said the government was putting in mechanisms such as water harvesting and wants Kenyans to make use of any available water to produce food.
“The new Agriculture CS will soon give a blue print on how the government intends to improve production of most of the stable foods in the country including maize, rice, potatoes and wheat and other cash crops,” said the PS.
“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.
He said so far the government has purchased 2.7 million, 90kg bags of maize, a record high in the last five years, the highest amount of maize the government has ever 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 were only able to purchase about two million of bags annually”, he said.
Lesiyampe noted that government targets 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.
Meanwhile, 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.
He said this should be concluded by end of this to give an indication and projection on how long the maize in the reserve can run the country.
“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, the PS said 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.
He also called upon retailers selling the 2kg packet of maize flour at more than Sh115 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 and March. Let us not allow greed to overcome the common good,” added the PS.
By Wangari Ndirangu