, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 15 – Despite a disease that has destroyed thousands of acres of maize in Kenya’s breadbasket regions, the country is expected to produce unprecedented 38 million bags this season, according to Agriculture Permanent Secretary Romano Kiome.
Speaking at the 3rd National Agricultural Sector Development Forum (NASDF), Kiome revealed that Kenya will import just one million bags to cover for the shortfall in product, down from nine million bags in past years.
General maize production has gone up from 30 million bags and the PS noted that the demand is 38 to 39 million bags.
The high-level forum will be opened by President Mwai Kibaki on Tuesday. The forum, which ends on Wednesday, will chart a new future for Kenya’s agricultural sector.
About 64,000 hectares of maize in the Rift Valley have been destroyed by the lethal necrosis disease, affecting almost a million bags according to PS Kiome.
The PS however attributed the bumper harvest to the use of improved seeds, increased application of subsidised fertilizer, and good producer prices.
“We can comfortably achieve the Millennium Development Goals of eradicating food insecurity by 2015,” Kiome noted.
The development comes as the sector prepares to launch a key policy document that targets to make Kenya a food secure nation.
The National Food and Nutrition Security Policy will be launched by the President on Tuesday, where he will also launch the National Agribusiness Strategy and the National Agricultural Sector Extension Policy (NASEP), aimed at coordinating and regulating agricultural extension services.
The National Agribusiness Strategy seeks to transform agriculture from hitherto low added-value to an “innovative, commercially-oriented, international competitive and modern sector” with the theme ‘Moving towards Agribusiness for a Globally Competitive Agricultural Sector’.