The Strategic Food Reserve has warned that Kenya is facing serious food shortages after it emerged that the country’s maize reserves had not yet been restocked and were empty.
According to SFR chairman Dr. Noah Wekesa, the maize reserves were empty due to the locust invasion in Kenya, since December last year, coupled with bad weather conditions.
Last harvesting season, the country had expected to harvest 40 million bags of maize, but less than 30 million bags were realised.
The SFR was unable to stock the maize reserve since they were unable to buy maize from farmers because they offered 2,800 shillings per 90 kgs while millers and other traders were buying for between 3,000 and 3,200 shillings.
Dr. Wekesa’s warning comes amidst the government’s stringent measures, including the shutdown of markets across the country to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
“We are in a fix right now with no reserves in our stores. The Ministry of Agriculture must take urgent action to protect Kenyans from starving,” said Wekesa.
If the situation persists and no solution is found, SFR warns that maize flour will in the next three months go up since the only other solution will be to import maize from Mexico.
The Food Reserve board revealed that it has been in a toggle with the Ministry of Agriculture after it asked the Ministry to fast track the re-stocking of the national reserves but was yet to get a response.
The SFR was of the opinion that the ministry should use money from the Strategic Food Reserve Fund, which was primarily established for a time of crises like the current one, to buy enough food to last for at least one month.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya is reported to have declined the request to buy maize, saying an audit has to be carried out first.
Wekesa said the shortage of food had been worsened by high post-harvest losses as a result of heavy off-season rains.