Agriculture Cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri has insisted that the country is facing maize shortage and that importation is the only way to stabilise supplies.
Speaking at Kahira Ini Church in Mathira, Nyeri County, Kiunjuri said that the shortage was not an artificial creation by his ministry to benefit cartels as alleged, terming it as a political witch-hunt.
According to the CS, if the situation is not contained early in advance, Kenyans could find it hard to put ugali on the table as prices for a 2kg packet of maize flour could hit Ksh150.
Last week, the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund chairperson Noah Wekesa issued a statement contradicting Kiunjuri’s sentiments, saying that maize shortage in the country was “artificial” and exaggerated to justify plans by cartels to import the grain.
The government is planning to import over 12.2 million bags of maize to curb the alleged shortage in the country.
“We only consume 1.5 million bags per month. There are more than 760,000 bags at NCPB and we bought another two million bags bringing the total to about 2.8 million bags yet to be sold to millers,” explained Wekesa.
This contradiction is yet to be cleared, since the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund works under the ministry of agriculture and is mandated to maintain and advise the government on food reserves in the country.
According to Wekesa, CS Kiunjuri has been ignoring the agency’s advise.
“We shall have a good harvest from various places especially western Kenya and Bomet County around September,” he said.
Kiunjuri however read insubordination and malice from Wekesa’s statement, saying that the ministry has the final say.
“Any other body that would like to issue a statement on maize imports cannot do that because the ministry has the final say. The ministry is the voice of the Government when it comes to food situation in the country. Any other organisation has to get information from the ministry,” said the CS.
“He has no courtesy for the PS and the CS and has shown no respect for the last two weeks. Nobody has the authority on the food situation in the country except the ministry.”
Wekesa’s sentiments were echoed by Cherangany MP Joshua Kutuny who said that maize-growing zones should be afraid of the importation.
“As MPs from maize-growing region, we have concerns on importation of maize. We had a meeting with the chair of the Strategic Grain Reserve to get a clear picture of the situation, and from the statistics, there are questions on whether we really need to import maize,” said Kutuny.
Others who have questioned the government’s motive include Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos, Moiben MP Silas Tiren, Mosop MP Vincent Tuwei and Soy MP Caleb Kositany.