MPs push State to allocate Sh10bn for food reserves


The National Assembly has opened public participation for two bills which form part of the conditions attached to the Sh139 billion soft loan secured from the World Bank. FILE PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

Parliament has asked the government to allocate funds for the National Food Reserve in efforts to cushion against perennial food shortages.

The National Assembly’s Agriculture committee says the 2023 Budget Policy Statement has no funds for the Reserve expected to be set up under the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).

The committee has asked the Budget and Appropriations Committee to allocate Sh10 billion for buying food stocks for reserves.

“It is important for the country to have a stock of food reserves to cushion against food shortage, provide a ready market for key food staples, as well as act as a price stabiliser,” the committee said.

Read: NCPB requests Sh10 billion for strategic maize reserves

It is unfortunate, the team said, that the country has no food reserves owing to the disbandment of the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund Board and the purported transfer of monies in the Fund to the Exchequer.

“The Principal Secretary should immediately begin the process of preparing regulations that will govern the National Food Reserve,” the committee chaired by John Mutunga, said in a report to the House.

The committee said the rules will make it possible for funds to be allocated to the National Food Reserve in the financial year 2023/24.

Former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya disbanded the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund.

Its winding up went against recommendations of the Cabinet on restructuring both the Fund and the NCPB.

November 20, 2019, Cabinet memo recommended the restructuring of both the Fund and the NCPB.

Read: Rising maize price signals expensive food reserve refill

The changes would make the Fund a body corporate and correct the confusion where the PS is both the administrator and a member of its oversight board.

The cereals board last month told Parliament the government has not allocated funds for Strategic Food Reserve grains.

Joseph Kimote, the MD, told MPs the NCPB bought maize for commercial trading and not for the reserves.

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