Kenya to spend 60 mln USD in maize subsidy

Speaking at this year's Nairobi International Trade Fair in Nairobi, Kenyatta said the money will be used to buy all the maize offered for sale by farmers this season under the government's Strategic Food Reserve program to boost food security and sustain affordable price for maize flour.

"To boost our food security and sustain affordable price for maize flour, the government will buy under the Strategic Food Reserve, all the maize offered for sale by our farmers during this 2017/18 season," he said. "For this purpose, we have programmed to spend 6 billion shillings (about 60 million dollars)."

Kenyatta said the government has cut the price of planting fertilizer to 12 dollars per 50kg for the next season to further cushion farmers against rising cost of inputs.

An estimated 5.6 million people in Kenya are affected by drought, including 3.4 million people who are food insecure, according to the United Nations.

Of particular concern are the 2.6 million people now facing severe food insecurity, including 500,000 who are experiencing "emergency" levels of food insecurity, according to the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) system.

According to the UN, over 300,000 children in Kenya's arid and semi-arid regions now require urgent treatment for acute malnutrition, and in the worst-affected areas global acute malnutrition (GAM) rates are more than twice the emergency threshold of 15 percent.

Kenyatta said his administration will not waiver in its efforts to cushion consumers against high food prices.

"As a caring administration, we had to take steps to cushion consumers against the high food prices. In this regard, we instituted and successfully implemented a subsidized maize flour program that lowered the price of a 2kg packet of maize flour from 1.5 dollars to 0.90 dollars," Kenyatta said.

He underscored his administration's commitment to boost the country's food security by transforming agriculture from subsistence to commercial, market-oriented farming.

Kenyatta said in the current financial Year, the government has allocated 300 million dollars to the ministry of agriculture, livestock and fisheries to finance implementation of programs that will enhance agricultural production and ensure food security.

The president said measures have also been put in place to improve accessibility of fertilizer to farmers at a reasonable cost.

He said the government has constituted a multi-institutional technical team of experts and provided 3 million dollars toward containing the emergence of a new pest known as "fall army worm" that has affected the cereal sub-sector.

Other government efforts to boost agriculture productivity, according to Kenyatta, include the provision of livestock and crop insurance programs, facilitating farmers to access affordable credit, and expanding markets for the country's exports, mainly tea, coffee and horticultural produce.

Courtesy of Xinhuanet

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