Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi finally pronounced himself on the issue of maize importation and the current food situation after a long silence.
“I am the custodian of the statistics on how much food we require in this country, how much food we consume every day, and right now my technical people have worked on all the deficits in terms of maize, rice, beans whatever is required in the country to ensure that after this harvest, we do not lack food before we experience the long rains,” said the CS.
Linturi said he will give a comprehensive statement on the current food situation in the country to Parliament and Kenyans and anything that needs to be done to intervene on the situation will be done.
In the recent past, the issue of importing food has been a hot topic as Moses Kuria, the Trade Cabinet Secretary declared that the country will import 10,000 bags of GMO maize. He went on to warn maize farmers in the country to sell the maize they had in the stores’ failure to which the government will import maize leading to price reduction. Linturi however said he was not aware of what Kuria had said and he can’t respond to matters seen on social media. cautioned farmers against selling all their maize as they would suffer later. He however advised them to sell a little if they had a surplus to meet their needs like paying school fees for their children saying nobody can be forced to sell their produce.
Linturi contradicted Kuria by declaring that the government had not ordered any maize since such recommendations should emanate from his ministry.
Unlike Kuria who views maize importation as a solution to the high cost of maize in the country, Linturi is vouching for the reduction of the cost of production to bring down the cost to affordable prices for many Kenyans. “The prevailing prices in the market for a 90 kg bag of maize is between Kshs 5400 to 5800 which is basically out of reach for many Kenyans and that is why I am working overdrive to bring down that cost to an affordable one. We want to see whether we can bring it down to between Kshs 4000 and Kshs 4400 or thereabout,” said the CS.
He said that the government had started by providing subsidized inputs like fertilizer. “It is not about how much a bag of maize costs but the cost of producing that bag. If you produce a bag of maize at Kshs 10000 and sell it at Kshs 1100, you are only making a thousand shillings but if I bring the cost of production to Kshs 2000 and sell it at Kshs 3500, you are doing better than the person who sold at Kshs 11000,” he added
The Cabinet Secretary said they are working day and night to ensure there is enough food in the country as that is one mandate of the Ministry. He said that working with Governors clearly demonstrates how serious the Ministry was towards that despite not talking a lot. In a year the results will be seen as production had started according to Linturi as he asked Kenyans for patience.
While saying that he will do whatever it takes to bring down the price of food in the country, Linturi said they have to balance between people making abnormal profits at the expense of people dying because of hunger.