• Kenyan farmers will get permits to practice farming in Zambia and export the food to Kenya.
• Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi says the modality seeks to ensure the cost of food is affordable to the common citizen.
Industry players have expressed concern over the move by the Government to have large-scale farmers grow maize in Zambia.
This is after Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi signed a memorandum of understanding with his Zambian counterpart to have large-scale farmers plant maize on 49, 000 acres in Zambia and then export the commodity to the country.
The players are concerned about the practicability of farmers growing maize in Zambia and exporting it to Kenya.
They questioned what will happen when the maize shortage hits Zambia yet one of the requirements for the Kenyan farmers is that they grow the maize and export it to Kenya.
One stakeholder who did not want to be mentioned was concerned that in case of a maize shortage in Zambia, there may not be a guarantee that Zambia will allow Kenyan farmers to export maize to Kenya.
“We have enough land in Kenya to grow maize and we are more than capable of doing it here. All we need is a conducive partnership between Government and the private sector because we are all in it together,” the industry player said.
While sighing the MoU in Lusaka, Linturi said the move will help in achieving food security by allowing Kenyan farmers to get permits to practice farming in Zambia and export the food to Kenya.
“The government will do everything possible to bring down the cost of food by adopting creative measures like such collaborations. I am happy that the government of Zambia is willing to offer Kenyan farmers farm blocks where they can produce food for export markets,” Linturi said.
He further added that the government is working on a modality to ensure the cost of food is affordable to the common citizen.
His Zambian counterpart Reuben Mtolo said Zambia's weather patterns are favourable for food production which will benefit Kenya’s desire to achieve food security.
“We have agreed to allow Kenyan farmers to start large-scale farming in Zambia and export their harvests to Kenya. We have one of the best farms and weather in Zambia which is favourable for farming and it will be beneficial to Kenyans,” Mtolo said.
Timothy Njagi, a senior researcher from Tegemeo Institute said the move may pose a challenge when exporting maize from Zambia to Kenya due to the Common External Tariff (CET).
“Currently, according to the East Africa Community (EAC) common market, maize coming from outside the EAC is subject to a 50 per cent external tariff. What will happen because Zambia is not part of the EAC?” he asked.
Njagi said it will also be interesting to see the criteria that the Government will use to identify which large-scale farmers will be permitted to grow maize on the 49,000 acres.
Antony Kioko CEO Cereal Growers Association said it is more economically beneficial for the Government to invest in policy decisions that prioritise local production.
“Production of maize locally means that many other businesses benefit in the process. This also improves our tax collection because all these businesses are performing economic activities within the country,” he said.
He added that if the Government pushes on with the plan, the Cereal Growers Association which is a farmer organization would want to be aware of the farmer selection criteria to ensure that only competent and experienced farmers participate in that,” said Kioko.