Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya. FILE PHOTO | NMG Kenya has maize stocks that can only last up to end of July, setting the stage for a crisis if the country does not import the staple in coming days.
The Agriculture Ministry told Parliament Wednesday that the country has 1,880,704 bags.
This means that Kenya must step up imports ahead of harvest season in September.
Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said the country’s estimated maize stock as at May 1 was 12,200,814 bags.
“A shortfall of maize is anticipated, therefore two million bags of 90 kilogramme (kg) white and yellow maize, each will be imported by the private sector as per the gazette notice No. 3234 of April 20,” said Mr Munya.
Kenya consumes on average 4.25 million bags of maize per month.
The country will rely on imports until farmers harvest the long rains crop from October.
Mr Munya said Kenya currently has 4,273,559 bags of beans, 1,911,175 bags of wheat and 411,580 bags of rice.
Mr Munya told the Senate committee on Agriculture that there was a slight increase in maize prices with the cost staying above the recommended long-term average.
The staple is retailing at between Sh2,800 and Sh3,380 per 90kg bag
“Maize prices were near the five-year averages across most key reference markets, though moderate prices increase,” he said.A two-kilo packet of flour is currently retailing at between Sh110 and Sh125 depending on the brand in major supermarkets in Nairobi.Mr Munya told senators the national food and nutrition security was stable following near normal performance of the 2019 long rains season.He said the 2019 long and short rains resulted in production of about 43.3 million-90 Kg bags of maize, which was a slight decline compared to 44.5 million bags produced in 2018.“However, production of other food staples remained normal,” he told the committee chaired by Embu Senator Njeru Ndwiga.Mr Munya said the prices of maize and wheat had increased following uncertainties brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic as well as locust invasion in some counties.He warned that flooding and desert locust invasion, restriction in movement and low purchasing power as a result of loss of livelihoods for some households were likely to limit access to adequate, safe and nutritious foods in the country during the year.