NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – President Mwai Kibaki has directed that wheat be purchased from local farmers at a cost of Sh2,800 per 90 kg bag.
He has also instructed the Minister for Agriculture William Ruto to include wheat in the strategic grain reserves and relief programme.
Wheat farmers have recently been holding on to their harvests to demand better prices. They have been asking the government to increase their purchasing price for the maize from Sh2,050 per bag to Sh2,800.
The growers argue that the production cost for an acre of wheat had risen over the past three years from about Sh7,000 to Sh17,000 in 2008, making them incur heavy losses.
Several attempts by Mr Ruto to convince them to deliver their produce to the National Cereals and Produce Board were rejected, with most farmers deciding instead to hoard their produce.
Mr Ruto had argued that a price review was not possible in view of the budgetary constraints.
The move comes just a day after the government increased the purchase price of maize from Sh1,950 per 90 kg bag to Sh2,300.
On Thursday, President Kibaki further directed government agencies to closely monitor the food situation in the country and make arrangements to provide adequate food for the most vulnerable Kenyans.
The President has already declared the current famine a national disaster and made a Sh37 billion international appeal for food aid for some 10 million people who are food insecure.
The Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua has also reiterated in his weekly press briefing that the state was serious in dealing with the current food shortage in the country occasioned by failed rains.
“The government will not let Kenyans starve. We have imported two million bags of maize and the first consignment of this purchase is expected in two weeks time,” he told journalists.
Dr Mutua added that the Ministry of Special Programmes was undertaking major logistic processes and streamlined the course of getting food to needy areas of our country.
“The Government is confident that with this concerted effort, no Kenyan will starve but we will be able to ensure food security for our people.”