Climate change means more grain imports — Experts

Weather patterns harder to predict, making it hard to prepare farms on time

In Summary

• Last year, the country produced 43 million bags against the needed 52 million bags. 

• Agriculture CAS says the production cost of maize is higher in Kenya than in neighbouring countries. 

Africa will be importing much more than it exports in 20 years if nothing is done  about climate change including using modern technology.

This was reported at the  8th African Grain Trade Summit on Thursday and Friday at a Mombasa hotel.

Climate change has made it impossible to predict weather patterns accurately, making it hard for farmers to prepare farms at the right time to increase production for domestic use and agribusiness.

Addressing journalists at the summit, Agriculture CAS Andrew Tuimur said Kenya does not import enough maize and, therefore, is  forced to import.

Hesaid that  last year, the country produced 43 million bags against the needed 52 million bags.

“So, where does that come from? It's either from Uganda or Tanzania and that is what we prefer. We we do not want to start importing from as far as Mexico," Tuimur said.

The CAS blamed high production costs compared to costs in neighbouring countries.

The government is assisting farmers through subsidy programmes to reduce costs.

“Some of the inputs we give are fertilisers, for instance, lime, and there are other areas where we can assist the farmer,” he said. 

Tuimur urged farmers to reduce the cost of production adding that the market is liberalised and the government has no control over prices. 

“If they can reduce the cost of production then the market forces will take care of the millers and everyone else,” Tuimur said. 

The summit brought together business leaders, policymakers and other stakeholders from Africa and beyond to discuss issues and emerging trends in the grain sector on the continent. 

The East African Grain Council hosted of the summit. Executive Director Gerald Masila said sector problems include payment of 50 per cent taxes for imports. Other problems include laws governing the sector.  

“We are discussing to improve the grain business so food can reach the consumer at an affordable price and they get quality products that will not harm their health,” Masila said. 

Edited by R.Wamochie