The controversy surrounding maize is not new but every time a shortage looms, the government fumbles in its attempts at coming up with a lasting solution. This week, millers raised the alarm that they would halt operations unless the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) releases maize from the Strategic Food Reserve stock to assure a steady supply of maize meal.
The State had assured the millers that the NCPB would supply them with maize worth Sh1 billion to ease the shortage and tame the rising cost of flour. However, the Agriculture ministry halted the distribution on reports that it had been diverted, throwing the plans into disarray until senior State officials, including Head of Civil Service, intervened.
The actions taken by various government agencies create the impression that the left hand is not aware of what the right hand is doing. There needs to be more synergy in their approach.
But there must also be deliberate actions taken, first to ensure long-term availability of staple foods and secondly to stop the default position that the Treasury must create a duty-free window to pave way for imports.
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