KENYA: President Uhuru Kenyatta bans maize exports
President Uhuru Kenyatta has banned maize exports until the ravaging drought ends.
The President also ordered the arrest of unscrupulous traders hoarding maize to make “abnormal” profits.
Addressing a rally in Isiolo Town, President Kenyatta, flanked by Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario and Governor Godana Doyo, said the drought in the country was dire and that his government was doing “everything possible to address it.”
He said no maize should leave the country until the food shortage ends.
“We want to ensure that we help those affected,” he said.
The President regretted that some traders were hoarding maize anticipating that prices would rise.
The government, through the National Cereals and Produce Board, is currently buying maize at Sh3,000 per 90kg bag in the North Rift. Private millers are buying the cereal at between Sh2,800 and Sh3,200 per 90kg bag.
“Action would be taken against traders found hoarding maize. You cannot take advantage of the needy to make profits,” he warned.
The President, who was in Isiolo to spearhead a voter registration campaign, said the government is preparing a supplementary budget to address the food deficit. He urged county governments to also realign their budgets to cater for the hungry.
He said the rain shortfall had also affected neighbouring Ethiopia, Uganda and Somalia.
Long term measures are to be taken to prevent Kenyans from suffering again due to drop of rains.
President Kenyatta said pastoralists should be assisted to access water and pasture for their livestock.
While the country produces about 33 million bags of maize annually, consumption stands at about 40 million bags.
The deficit is usually filled through imports and cross-border trade.
Food shortages are usually worsened by drought, and arid and semi-arid counties, where residents rely on livestock for their livelihood, are hit hardest.
Isiolo and neighbouring Marsabit, Mandera and Wajir counties are some of the regions most affected by the drought.
In Marsabit, Governor Ukur Yatani says hundreds of thousands of animals have died due to lack of rains since April last year.
Some 250,000 people in Marsabit need food assistance.
A supplementary budget, Mr Yatani said, has been prepared to raise money for relief supplies, livestock off-take, water and peace building.
Mr Yatani’s administration has also stopped recruiting workers and cut recurrent expenditure by 50 per cent to save Sh450 million for food supplies to the needy in the next three months.
The governor said his government plans to buy livestock from pastoralists, slaughter them and distribute meat to hunger-stricken families.