NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 17 – Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri has ruled out importation of maize from Mexico to act as a buffer for the existing stocks in the government warehouse.
The CS told the National Assembly Committee on Agriculture and Livestock that the government has instead decided to approach Ethiopia, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and other East African Community (EAC) countries for maize to help seal the deficit of 12 million bags.
He told the MPs that the decision to import from Mexico was time-barred.
“Even if we were to import maize from Mexico, it would take 47-60 days and another 136 days to offload the maize from the ship at the Port of Mombasa,” he said.
Kiunjuri explained that the Cabinet can only approve importation of maize from outside the two trading blocs if it has declared famine a national disaster and if the price of a 2kg packet of maize flour is being sold at above Sh110.
The CS noted that currently between Sh120-Sh124.
He said this is part of the government plans to cushion farmers such as setting a Sh3 billion cash fund dedicated to the purchase of the maize produce during harvest expected from mid-September to October.
Committee Chairman Adan Haji (Mandera South) accused Kiunjuri of causing panic in the country on maize imports whenthere is no shortage of the commodity in the country.
The CS dismissed Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund’s advice on the importation of maize, saying it is the role of the Ministry of Agriculture.
He warned Board Chairman Noah Wekesa of insubordination after the two contradicted each other over the deficit and the planned importation.
Kiunjuri said that only the ministry is mandated to comment on food situation in the country.
The Cabinet Secretary accused Wekesa of misleading Kenyans with information that contradicts his Ministry.
The CS spoke even as committee members led by Vice chairman Emmanuel Wangwe (Navakholo), Simba Arati (Dagoreti North), and Haji Adan Yusuf (Mandera West) voiced their concerns that the public spat between the two leaders wasreckless and only aimed at causing unnecessary anxiety among Kenyans.
Kiunjuri however, assured the Committee and Kenyans that he is focused to performing his duties.
A section of leaders from Rift Valley led by Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter have already threatened to impeach the CS over the maize importation plan from Mexico, while claiming that Sh1.8 billion has been withdrawn from the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund.
“This issue of maize is under the President’s Big 4 Agenda on food security and is sad that the CS is sabotaging it,” Keter told a news conference at Parliament buildings Wednesday.