12 September 2018

Kenya: Maize Harvest to Hit 46 Million Bags, Says Agriculture CS Kiunjuri

Farmers across the country are expecting a bumper harvest of 46 million bags of maize this season.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, while revealing this, said the harvest would be a welcome boost to the country's efforts to attain food security.

The harvest will also help stabilise food prices in the country, he added.

"We are expecting 46 million bags, up from the last season's figure of 40 million bags. The bumper harvest will give us the advantage of having maize and even enable us to stabilise maize prices in the country," he said on Tuesday.

The heavy rains witnessed in the last one year had favoured maize cultivation, he added.

PLANT MORE MAIZE

"The weather was very good. We campaigned for farmers to plant more maize, and gave subsidised fertiliser in counties like Trans Nzoia, which recorded a 25 per cent increase in production," the CS told journalists in Nairobi.

He spoke during the opening of the second National Agri-Nutritional Conference, whose theme this year is "Accelerating Nutritional Gains Through Agriculture".

He said the recent 16 per cent VAT fuel levy was not expected to result in a raise in prices of flour and other products.

"We always discuss the issue of pricing with millers and so far we have not heard any complaints from the major millers.

"People operating a posho mill somewhere should not take advantage of the situation to increase the prices three or four times. The VAT should not result in any price increase by millers," said Mr Kiunjuri.

MALNUTRITION

In 2017, agriculture directly contributed 31.3 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), equivalent to Sh2.7 trillion and a further 27 per cent to the GDP indirectly through links with the manufacturing and service related sectors, the CS said.

Still, an estimated 10 million people are food insecure in the country, whose population has crossed the 46 million mark.

Malnutrition also affects a significant portion of the population in the country, particularly children.

Already, farmers in the Western, South Rift and Eastern regions have started harvesting. Peak harvesting in the North Rift will last from October to November.

Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) chairman Noah Wekesa last month said the country has a maize stock of 3.6 million bags of 90 kilogrammes each.

INCREASE CAPACITY

"We are expecting about four million bags of maize at the SFR this season, but would wish to increase the capacity to eight million bags in future.

"This will, however, require increased funding and other resources to ensure that the oversight board is sufficiently enabled to serve farmers," Mr Wekesa said during a Senate Select Committee session on the maize crisis.

In a speech read on her behalf by Director of Preventive and Promotive Health Services, Dr Peter Cherutich, Health CS Sicily Kariuki reiterated that the government is committed to ensuring food and nutrition security.

USAID Deputy Director of Mission Heather Schildge reiterated her country's commitment to assisting Kenya achieve its food security goals.

Through the Feed the Future Initiative which USAID has been sponsoring in the country, Ms Schildge pledged further "intensified US assistance" to the Kenya government.

Kenya

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