TIGHTEN THE BELTS

Alarm as Senate announces stores empty of maize

The 124,625 bags in the stores have aflatoxin and are to be destroyed

In Summary
  • Maize stores empty as the country grapples with Covid-19 and invasion of locusts.
  • Last month, the government allowed private millers to import two million bags of white maize and a similar amount of yellow maize.
Maize in a warehouse /FILE
Maize in a warehouse /FILE

A Senate committee has raised the alarm over empty maize stores at a time the country is grappling with Covid-19 and locust invasion.

Embu Senator Njeru Ndwiga, who chairs the Standing Committee on Agriculture, said there is no maize in the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) to last up to the next harvest season.

According to Ndwiga, 124,625 fifty-kg bags in the stores have aflatoxin and are due for destruction.

“Currently, there is no maize stock in Strategic Food Reserve stores as the government left market forces to be in play. The government had also disposed of old stock to avoid quality deterioration,” he said.

“There is a total of 124,625 bags of aflatoxin-contaminated maize set to be destroyed by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).”

Ndwiga acknowledged that the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund has the cash to purchase maize locally or across the border.

“The Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund has about Sh10 billion for food purchases locally or externally if the need arises.”

Recently, the government allowed private millers to import two million bags of white maize and a similar amount of yellow maize to supplement local supplies and stabilise unga prices.

The importation was gazetted on April 20.

Importers have a May 30 deadline subject to adjustment if there are justifiable and valid shipment delays.

The imports will bridge the gap the country is expected to experience between June and July when stocks run out.

“This will also cushion local producers from market flooding when local supplies from the South Rift are available in the market in August,” Ndwiga said.

He regretted the spike in maize and wheat prices due to uncertainties brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and locust invasion in some counties.

- mwaniki fm