Government rules out maize importation

The government has ruled out importation of maize from neighbouring countries despite the country having an 8million bags deficit in its stores.

Agriculture Principal secretary Richard Lesiyampe said instead the government will encourage farmers through better prices to sell the produce to NCPB as one way of addressing the deficit, which he attributed to poor harvest and post-harvest losses.

Lesiyampe further said projections indicated that farmers would produce an estimated 36million bags, which was way above the deficit.

Lesiyampe regretted that for years, the country had never met its maize demand, forcing the government to trade with neighbouring countries of Uganda and Tanzania.

He added that the government was keen to support the growers and millers as the country had ample land to grow maize.

Kenyans consume an average of 48million bags of maize against a production of 40m bags annually and its time that we resolved this, he said.

The PS made the remarks during a three day forum of state and various stakeholders in the maize sector in a Naivasha hotel, with the aim of deliberating on measures that should be taken to improve maize production.

He said that at the end of the forum, the stakeholders would come up with policies and resolutions on how to improve on maize production and reduce the annual deficit.

For years we have not met maize demand in this country and we want to change that so that we can even start exporting to other countries, he said.

Chairman Cereal Growers Association Farnie Kruger termed the army worm as one of the greatest challenge that the sector was currently facing, warningthat if urgent measures were not put in place to cobat the menace, the country’s maize production could drop sharply as the pest was spreading fast and causing massive destruction.

Currently it’s very wet meaning we can’t use machines in spraying and we have been forced to manually spray so as to contain this pest, he said.

Trans-Nzoia County Executive in charge of agriculture Mary Nzomo echoed the sentiments, noting that no solution had been identified for the Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLD).

She identified high cost of farm inputs coupled with low producer prices and high post-harvest losses as some of the challenges farmers faced, leading to a drop in maize production.

Source: Kenya News Agency