The national government has backed down on its earlier plans to import maize pushing back the idea to February next year following pressure from local farmers.
On Tuesday, President Ruto announced that the farmers will now be given priority to access the local market in the meantime backtracking from the ultimatum Trade CS Moses Kuria had given farmers.
He said the ongoing harvesting of maize across the country is set to yield about 30 million bags of maize against an annual consumption of approximately 45 million bags.
However, the President said the deficit arising from the lower than expected domestic yields will be bridged through the importation of 10 million bags starting next year.
“In honour of our nation’s sacred duty to our farmers, Cabinet resolved that the farmers produce will be accorded priority access to the market. The importation by the private sector will commence in February 2023 and it shall be incentivised by way of a customs duty waiver,” said the communication from the Office of the President.
Early this month, Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria announced the government had made the tough call to allow duty-free importation of 10 million bags of GMO maize over the next six months to address a biting food crisis as millions risk starvation.
However, the announcement was met with backlash from different quarters with MPs from President Ruto’s Rift Valley and Western training their guns on Mr Kuria over the plans.
The lawmakers demanded that the government freeze the importation of maize into the country until April next year when there is clear deficit of the commodity.
On Monday, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi also distanced his ministry from the planned importation.