• In 2019 by former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration disbanded the strategic food reserve.
• Former Agriculture CS Peter Munya cited duplication of roles between SFR and the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).
The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) now wants Sh15 billion from the National Treasury to stock the Strategic Food Reserve.
NCPB Managing Director Joseph Kimote said the money will go towards stocking in excess of three million 90 kg bags of maize in the SFR.
Kimote said part of the food reserves will go towards relief supplies while the rest will be utilised for market innovation programmes in the country.
“Our request was Sh15 billion to stock in excess of 3 million bags of maize. Although this was not factored into the supplementary budget, we are," he said.
"However, negotiating with the government to ensure the fund is in place. The board will be making an application for the same in the next budget."
On March 13, 2023, the government through the agriculture CS Mithika Linturi gazetted the National Cereals and Produce Board (National Strategic Reserve) Regulations 2023.
The regulation will pave the way for the establishment of a strategic food reserve fund.
According to the gazette notice, the reserve shall consist of base stock and the monetary equivalent thereof, stock that has undergone price stabilisation and the quantity of the stock.
“The quantity of the stock shall be determined by the Committee based on the prevailing market demand and supply conditions as communicated to the Board," the National Cereals and Produce Board (National Strategic Reserve) Regulations 2023 reads.
"The quantity of base stock shall be more than 90,000 metric tons or three months national food requirement of scheduled agricultural produce."
The move will see the return of the strategic food reserve after it was disbanded in 2019 by former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration amid wars with the ministry and the then SFR board which was chaired by Noah Wekesa.
By the time of disbandment, NCPB claimed that the SFR board owed them about Sh3.2 billion for purchase and storage services rendered from 2011 to 2019.
Former Agriculture CS Peter Munya who disbanded the SFR board cited duplication of roles between SFR and NCPB.
Kimote said the next step is for the National Treasury to put in place a fund that will avail resources required to stock the SFR.
“The fund will provide an opportunity for NCPB to stock strategic food reserves in the country in the next harvesting season that will start toward the end of the year. The SFR will be domiciled in the NCPB under the Ministry of Agriculture,” he said.
The regulation indicates that the base stock shall behold information on warehouse receipts and that the quantity of the three-month national food requirement of scheduled agricultural produce in regulation 5(1) shall be calculated based on maize consumption equivalent.
“This will be determined by the conduct of price stabilisation,” the regulation said.
The National Cereals and Produce Board (National Strategic Reserve) Regulations, 2023, notes that the stocks will be monitored by a Food Balance Sheet committee under the NCPB.
“Pursuant to section 6 of the Act, there shall be a Food Balance Sheet Committee which shall be a committee of the board and members shall be appointed by the board,” the regulation reads.
It further stated that the board shall appoint a chairperson who possesses a degree from a University recognised in Kenya and at least ten years of experience in matters related to food security.
Other members will include the Principal Secretary of the State Department responsible for crop development or the person nominated by the PS in writing.
It will also have PSs from the state department of Livestock and Fisheries, and it will also have a representative from the Council of Governors.
Also proposed as part of the team are the chairperson board of directors of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Trade PS, PS in charge of the meteorological services, chairperson of the board of directors of Agriculture Sector Network with NCPB managing director being the secretary to the committee.
The regulation mandates the Committee to generate, analyse and submit the information required to determine the quantities referred to under regulation 5 (2) and 6 (3).
The committee will also be tasked to advise the Board on the supply, utilisation, distribution and intervention measures to improve availability and affordability of scheduled agricultural produce.
“The committee shall manage the digital food balance sheet, collect data and undertake market intelligence and price monitoring of scheduled agricultural produce as well as advise the Board on price stabilisation of scheduled agricultural produce,” the regulations read.
In determining the price, the committee would be required to check on seasonal price movements, changes in exchange rates, and market forces.
“The board shall notify the committee when the physical stock of the reserve reduces to the level of base stock, and advise on replenishment of the reserve,” the new rules read.
The committee will be required to meet at least once a month as per the regulation.
NCPB has been buying maize from farmers at a cost of Sh5,600 per 90kg bag, an increase of Sh500 from the initial cost of Sh5,100.
While appearing before the National Assembly Public Investments Committee in February this year, Kimote said the cereal board had opened its doors to buy maize from farmers.
“We are open to purchasing maize at Sh5,600 for a 90kg bag. We will pay in cash through M-Pesa,” Kimote said.