EDITORIAL: Step up food security

Packets of the subsidised maize flour. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Packets of the subsidised maize flour. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

It is not enough for the Treasury to announce its intention to discontinue the Sh90 maize flour subsidy mid this month or try to get consumers excited about the new harvests.

In the wake of an acute shortage of the staple food that saw the retail price of a two-kilo packet of maize meal touch a six-year high at Sh153 in April and the national stock reserves drop to below half-a-day’s supply on May 15, what the government should do is put in place measures to ensure such a food crisis doesn’t recur.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in his Wednesday speech at the Nairobi International Trade Fair reiterated his administration’s food security and drought mitigation plan, including subsidised farm inputs, crop and livestock insurance, access to credit, and combating the Fall Armyworm.

But the fact that the country plunged into the recent food crisis with more or less the same set of policies suggests there are serious weaknesses in its implementation.

Incentives for local farmers are often overlooked, with costly consequences. Under the subsidy plan, for instance, the government spent Sh4,000 to import a 90 kg bag of maize, which is Sh1,200 more than what the National Cereals and Produce Board normally offers local maize farmers for the same quantity. That’s is no way to fight food insecurity.