Before you vote: the truth about maize consumption

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett with other government officials examine a maize consignment being offloaded at the port of Mombasa on May 12, 2017. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP.

“…Every month, Kenyans use three million bags of maize. What will 300,000 bags do? What will it do? Nothing! That’s a drop in the ocean. It doesn’t help,” – Raila Odinga in Bungoma, last week.

Last Friday, the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Willy Bett received 322,222 bags of maize at the port of Mombasa.

The consumption figure quoted by Mr Odinga is within the range given by three sources, and going by the Economic Survey, last week’s shipment is enough to meet the country’s maize demand for about seven days.

In 2016 Kenyans consumed 29.3 million 90kg-bags of maize, which is equivalent to 2.4 million bags monthly, according to the 2017 Economic Survey. But data from the Kenya Agricultural Value Chain Enterprises puts the annual consumption of maize to be at about 3.1 million bags monthly whereas the World Bank placed it at 3.5 million bags monthly.

It is expected that about 2.8 million bags will have been imported by the end of July when the importation of duty-free maize window expires, by when, it is hoped, maize stocks will have normalised.

However, this is not assured because of the armyworm invasion in maize-growing areas.