Kenya increases strategic food reserve

Kenya increases strategic food reserve

Monday, August 13, 2018 9:06 pm

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya

Kenya Government on Monday said that it had planned to increase its strategic food reserve to eight million bags of maize in the medium term to boost food security in the country.

Eugene Wamalwa, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Devolution, disclosed this in Nairobi.

Wamalwa said 14 million dollars had been set aside in the current financial year to purchase maize both locally and abroad to boost the food reserve.

“The current stock levels of three million bags of the staple crop is not a sufficient buffer stock in case of a drought or pests or high international price of maize,” Wamalwa said.

He said the biggest threats facing maize production were drought and fall army worms.

Data from the ministry of agriculture indicated that the country produces approximately 39 million bags of maize annually against a consumption of 46 million bags.

The shortfall is met through imports from international markets as well as through informal trade from Uganda and Tanzania, Wamalwa said.

To guarantee more maize production, he said, the government is enhancing investment in irrigation as well as fertilizer subsidies to maize farmers.

Wamalwa said over-dependence on a single crop makes the country vulnerable to food shortages and that the country is promoting production of potatoes and indigenous cereals such as sorghum and millet that are more resilient to drought conditions.

Also, Kenya is considering putting in place a policy to enhance investment in Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs) areas to promote inclusive growth, he said.

Wamalwa said that a multisectoral taskforce had been appointed to develop the policy that will guide investments into the remote areas.

“Once the policy is in place the ASAL regions will be the new frontiers for economic growth in Kenya,” Wamalwa said.

The policy will for the first time coordinate national, country governments and donor funding in the ASALs regions that account for more than 70 per cent of the country’s land mass.

Wamalwa said the policy would provide a framework to align ASALs development plans and priorities to the national development blueprint Vision 2030, the third medium term plan, the UN Sustainable Development Goals as well as the President Uhuru Kenyatta’s development blueprint.

Wamalwa noted that in the past, arid areas have received limited government support as they were considered unproductive regions.

“As a government we have now realigned our prioritises to ensure that no region is left behind in order to promote equitable development across the country,” he said.

In order catalyse the economic transformation of the ASAL regions; Kenya plans to host the inaugural ASAL conference from Sept. 5 to 7.

Wamalwa said a three-day event would help Kenya to take stock of the opportunities, challenges and progress to inform development of the ASALs regions.

“The conference will be used a peer review mechanism for all development agencies in the underdevelopment regions,” he added.

According to the conference organisers, the meeting will focus on four broad areas namely: Economic, Environment, Governance and socio-cultural issues that are instrumental in unlocking the potential of ASALs development.

At the end of the event, delegates will be expected to come up with resolutions that will form the framework for the all development in the ASALs.

Wamalwa said the resolutions by the stakeholders will be binding in terms of planning and implementation of programmes and projects.


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