The Kenya government will allow importation of four million bags of maize to cushion the country against food shortage as it battles the coronavirus pandemic.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya disclosed that a Gazette Notice will be issued soon to allow importation.
Of the four million bags, said Mr Munya, two million will be white maize and the rest the yellow variety. While white maize is meant for human consumption, yellow is for processing animal feeds.
“We will ensure that the yellow maize is restricted to animal feeds processors,” said the CS.
Munya said the white maize will be subjected to 14 per cent duty while yellow maize will attract 10 per cent.
“This is to ensure that the maize being imported is not cheaper than what is available locally. All these are measures to ensure availability of food and animal feeds as the country faces this disease,” he said.
The last time a similar window of importation was issued was in July 2019 where traders were allowed to bring in 12 million bags to cushion Kenyans from high prices of maize flour.
Speaking at Kilimo House, Munya said the government has put all the necessary mechanism in place to ensure food security during this period.
He said there is no shortage of food, but noted it is too early to determine the impact the disease will have on the sector.
“Food supply is sufficient at the moment and I urge Kenyans to desist from panic buying which will warrant unnecessary shortages,” he said.
The CS urged farmers to continue with their activities, especially this planting season.
He said the government has negotiated for affordable fertiliser, now going for Sh2,300 from Sh3,800 for a 50kg bag from DAP. Coffee farmers can also buy theirs for Sh2,000 from over Sh3,000.
“Farmers should take advantage of the current rains and plant. We are alive to the fact that the country needs to be food secure even during this pandemic. We should also be aware that the agriculture sector will play a big role to steer this economy past this pandemic,” said Munya.
Operate at night
Munya said even with the curfew, agro-processors should not shy away from going about their business as they are one of the exempted essential service providers.
He said soon there will be guidelines on how agro-processors will conduct their business during this curfew period.
“I had a discussion with the Ministry of Interior and we agreed that food transporters will be allowed to operate even at night. Police and county administration should provide them safe passage, and of course they have to follow the structures of checks as laid out by the Ministry of Health,” said the CS.
Munya said licensed agro-processors should work during this period with minimal interruptions even as it has been reported that police have been harassing some transporters.