Kenya will raise the number of bags at the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) to four million, half of it through imports, next year to secure enough grain in stores amid fear of a looming shortage.
Director of Crops in the Ministry of Agriculture Johnson Irungu said the government will have to import at least two million bags in the event it doesn’t get enough stocks from farmers in the ongoing purchasing.
For the last couple of years, Kenya has been unable to get sufficient supply from farmers to replenish the SFR, which is required to have at least three million bags of maize at any given time, representing an equivalent of one-month consumption.
“If we do not get enough stocks, we will import two million bags meant for SFR to ensure we have enough stocks in the country that will play an important role in times of a shortage,” said Dr Irungu.
The ministry has projected a shortage of seven million bags following invasion of army worms and erratic weather that affected crop at a critical stage this year.
The State, through National Cereals and Produce Board is currently targeting to buy two million bags from farmers. The board has so far purchased 600,000 bag.
The import decision is meant to deter farmers from hoarding in anticipation of selling at a higher price in future.
Kenya sent a delegation to Mexico last month to discus a government-to-government deal that will allow the country to import maize without having to go through bureaucracy.