Government to lease unused land to improve maize production

The government will lease out all unused public institution land to farmers to grow maize as one way of mitigating against the current maize shortage that stands at 10 million bags annually.

The Ministry of Agriculture has already identified 60,000 acres which will be leased to the farmers in the coming year with projections that 1.8m bags will be produced in the said land.

The government also has suspended maize cess levy between counties as another way of increasing maize production and reduce cost of production.

The new regulations were unveiled at the end of the three day forum between the state and stakeholders in the cereal sector held at Country Club Hotel in Naivasha.

Addressing the press after the forum, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS), Willy Bett said the government was keen to reduce pressure on maize production as it is the country’s staple food.

Bett further said the country maize production stood at 40 million bags per year compared to a consumption of 50 million bags meaning a 10 million bags deficit.

We had a productive meeting with stakeholders in the maize sector and we have agreed on a raft of issues which will come in handy in addressing maize production, he said.

Flanked by the stakeholders, the CS said that the government would introduce a new policy which requires millers to blend maize with millet, sorghum or cassava.

Through this initiative, we shall reduce the issue of malnutrition by two percent annually and also give farmers involved in millet, sorghum or cassava a chance to sell their produce, he said.

Bett further said that the government was keen to introduce mechanized farming, adding that a Sh.10 billion security facility had been introduced for farmers keen to use the services.

The CS also said that the government would phase out all maize varieties that were 10 years old and promote the improved ones to improve maize production.

He added that the government have agreed with the stakeholders that to operationalize 40,000 acres for irrigation under the national irrigation board.

On the issue of army worms which have wreaked havoc in the country, the CS said that various research institutions were working on ways of dealing with emerging pests and diseases and assured farmers that the worms will soon be a thing of the past.

Source: Kenya News Agency