Uhuru not responsible for hunger, CS tells Raila

The Government has fought back claims by Opposition leader Raila Odinga that President Uhuru Kenyatta was responsible for prevailing hunger in the country.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett has argued that the hunger situation was a regional matter not confined to Kenya.

At the moment, Mr Bett said on Wednesday evening, the country “is at a better position in terms of the prices that are being offered for Unga.”

On Wednesday, the National Super Alliance (Nasa) presidential candidate accused the government of ignoring warning signs from experts about a looming maize shortage in order to create a national crisis to pave the way for cartels to profit from the situation.

However, Mr Bett in a statement, insisted that the government got early warnings on drought and took measures.

NATIONAL DISASTER

The CS explained that by August last year, interventions were already ongoing through the Ministry of Devolution.

“In November, after reviewing the situation, the government up-scaled the intervention programme by putting in place a four-phased National drought mitigation programme — running from November, 2016 to October 2017,” said Mr Bett.

He said this saw provision of relief food to over three million Kenyans in the 23 arid and semi-arid (ASAL) counties besides the government implementing water tracking, livestock off-take, food supplements and diseases control and extended and up-scaled cash transfers to the most vulnerable.

“By February this year, after a further review of the situation through our monthly food security assessments, the president declared the drought a national disaster,” explained the CS.

Mr Bett further said in April this year, the government removed VAT on maize flour and bread as an incentive to lower the prices for the benefit of consumers as well as waiving duty on the importation of maize.

NORMALCY

Contrary to the assertions that this was a preserve for a few importers, Mr Bett said the opportunity is open to everyone as long as they meet the quality standards.

“So far, the process has been successful and we have stocks from all over including Ethiopia. In addition, all the other agencies of government have been sensitised to facilitate the process,” he noted.

Mr Bett said by virtue of the government’s intervention and being a responsible government, the price of maize flour will continue retailing at Sh90 until the situation normalises.

“Interventions and supplies are being up-scaled and this is set to reach every corner of the Country including posho mills. From last week, milk started retailing at Sh50 per half litre packet.

“Sugar prices have been addressed and by next Monday, the price of 1kg of sugar will start retailing at Sh120,” said the CS.

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