M a r k e t N e w s

Kenya is food secure, says Agriculture CS Willy Bett

Posted on : Tuesday, 16th August 2016

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett has said the country has sufficient food reserves.
 
The CS's assurance contradicts recent claims by maize millers of shortages.
 
He told the State House Summit on Agriculture that there was no danger of hunger in the country.
 
"Kenya is food secure and we are working to ensure we remain food-sufficient," Mr Bett said during the third meeting of its kind to be held in State House and chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
 
Last week, it was the Transport ministry's turn after the first one on Energy.
 
Ministries have been allocated a week to talk about their achievements since 2013, and the plans they have on service delivery.
 
Last month, millers alleged a shortage of quality maize in the strategic grain reserves, raising fears of flour price hikes.
 
Recent interventions taken to ensure better management of food stocks include formation of a board to handle the strategic reserves while the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) only handles the actual logistics and storage.
 
And yesterday, Mr Bett used the State House platform to enumerate what he described as the success of his ministry in enhancing food security through initiatives like subsidised fertiliser, mechanisation of farming and livestock insurance.
 
Subsidising fertilisers for the main maize-growing regions such as the North Rift had doubled productivity, he said, adding that procurement of the commodity will now be completed by December.
 
"We must now complete procurement and importation of fertiliser as early as December, before the rains start," said the CS. Delays in procurement of fertiliser has in the past pushed farmers to plant without the critical farming input, often leading to poor yields.
 
Government-subsidised fertiliser sells at Sh1,800 per 50kg bag, compared to Sh3,200 in the open market.
 
Kenya expects to import more than 500,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser for the next planting season, expected to benefit 1.5 million farmers through lower costs.
 
The subsidy programme has, however, resulted in a fresh headache for the State where some State officers collude with dealers to repackage it and sell it as regular fertiliser.
 
More than 10,000 bags of the commodity were stolen earlier in the year, some of which was intercepted before reaching the market.
 
Some 22 managers of the NCPB, which handles the storage and distribution, were suspended pending completion of investigations.
 
Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe said the probe on the theft was still going on. "We do not think it is a big problem anymore," Mr Lesiyampe said, promising that the Government will be more 'ruthless' to people found to have repackaged the subsidised product.
 
He said the procurement of 990 milk coolers, which will be distributed to the various counties to help farmers preserve and bulk their produce, had been completed.
 
Using coolers would enable milk to be collected "once or twice a week", effectively eliminating the rush to sell, and at low prices. "The coolers will enable the farmers bargain for a better price," he said.
 
It is estimated that the coolers will cost Sh10.5 billion. Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, in attendance following the reorganisation of Government to hand the Galana-Kulalu project to his ministry, said he had finally got it right at the mega irrigation scheme.
 
"We have found the right variety of seeds for that project," he said, adding that he expects to harvest 40 bags of maize per acre.
 
In the next phase of the irrigation project after the pilot phase, which was done under the guide of an Israeli contractor, Mr Wamalwa said the Government will scale back on the operations and give way to private sector farmers.
 
"Our role should only be to put up a conducive environment for the private sector to come in, where we are already receiving Expressions of Interest from investors," said Wamalwa.
 
Only 2,000 acres have been cultivated in this season, against the target of 10,000 hectares. Until the last reshuffle of the Cabinet last November, Galana-Kulalu and all other irrigation projects were under the Agriculture ministry.
 
Collectively, 483,000 acres are under irrigation including privately-owned farms. And under the plan, several dams are in various stages of development to raise the production under irrigation and reduce reliance on rain-fed agriculture.

 

Source : www.standardmedia.co.ke
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