Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has disregarded remarks made by his counterpart from the Trade Ministry, Moses Kuria, over the importation order that required farmers to sell their maize to millers within 72 hours.
Speaking after holding a meeting with the Council of Governors, the Agriculture CS said he is the custodian of the amount of food needed to feed the country, and the level of deficit.
“I am the custodian of how much food we need and how much is the deficit. Hold your horses because I want to give you a position that is ready to defend. I will give a more comprehensive report on the national food status at a later date when I have all the data. Relax, you will have food,” said the CS.
He also explained that no one will force farmers to sell their produce, even as he advised farmers to only sell surplus.
“You cannot be forced to sell your produce. I ask farmers, those who have surplus, don't sell everything until you have nothing to eat. I assure the country that we are working day and night to ensure there is food in the country. Not just food, but food with the right nutritional content. We will ensure the cost of food is brought down., and I'll go out of my way to Make sure that happens,” said Linturi.
Three days ago, Moses Kuria issued an order, telling farmers to release hoarded grains within 72 hours or compete with 10 million bags of imported maize to be released into the market to ease food shortage and lower price of maize flour.
The Trade CS, who recently came under fire for his comments on GMO maize, threatened farmers that the cabinet may be forced to approve the importation of maize should the farmers fail to comply with the directive.
Yesterday, however, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi said the order to import maize should have been given by the agricultural ministry, as he urged Kuria to let the agriculture CS to deal with the matter.
"The issue of importation of maize should be guided by a survey from the Ministry of Agriculture to find out if there is a deficit of grains, that is a policy that must be well electioneered," he said.
Yesterday, Linturi and the Council of Governors (COG) also set up a seven-member technical team to ensure food security in the country. The team will be chaired by Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai and COG Chief Executive Officer Mary Mwiti will review all policies and legal matters in the agricultural sector and shall meet on a biweekly basis. They are expected to table a report within four weeks.
In a bid to support agriculture in counties, the Ministry and the COG have also agreed to liaise with the National Assembly to pass the County Governments Additional Funds Bill,2022. The two parties will also ensure that the Ministry and county governments are in constant engagement, in order to address the current agricultural needs of each county.
“The ministry and council of governors shall strengthen the Joint Agricultural Sector Consultation Mechanism and ensure continuous engagement between the Ministry and County governments on issues concerning the agricultural sector, a review of the current framework to ensure it is responsive to the current needs,” said Agriculture CS Linturi.