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Additional Sh3bn maize to be imported as shortage persists

The government willimport an additional three million bags of maize worth over Sh3 billion between now and the end of next month.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett yesterday said the ministry has applied for the money from the National Treasury.

He said the extension of the importation follows a gazette notice issued last month.

“This will supplement
the current maize harvest being received from various parts of the country. We realised
that the impact of the prolonged drought is yet to be tamed and equally the
harvest from the early crop is still not significant to sustain the country. We,
therefore, resolved to extend the programme up to the end of September when the
harvest of the main crop will start trickling in,” said Bett.

In May, the
government launched the Sh6 billion subsidy programme to reduce the price of
maize flour, which had increased to between Sh140 and Sh160 for a 2kg
packet.

So far, the
five million bags of maize have been imported from different countries be the end of last month.

The CS
added that harvesting has already started in South Rift and Western regions, and
that this is only being consumed at the household and posho mill level.

“This
harvest is not reaching the commercial level as the main harvest is
expected by the end of October. We are expecting about 27 million bags of maize and
four million bags will be stored in the National Food Strategic Reserve,” he
said.

Bett said this year’s harvest will have a shortfall of between 25 and 30
percent owing to depressed long rains and
the invasion by armyworms.

“We will
continue to monitor the situation to ensure the food market is well regulated and
ensure all maize produced is procured by the state from the farmers,” he
added.

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