As if the Coronavirus is not enough problem for Kenyans, the country is now facing a crippling food shortage, the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) chairman Dr. Noah Wekesa has warned.
“Our stores have nil stock. We sold our stock of four million bags last year and we have not purchased a new stock because the market price is beyond government reach,” Wekesa told journalists.
The warning comes at a time when the government has imposed stringent measures, including the shutdown of markets across the country to tame the spread of Covid-19.
Wekesa said the shortage of food was as a result of high post-harvest losses as a result of heavy off-season rains. “We have come out of a harvesting period but we recorded a high post-harvest loss of about 30 to 35pc because of excess rainfall,” he said.
Wekesa says the reserves are empty and should the Ministry of Agriculture not take urgent action, Kenyans will starve. This is the board asked the ministry to fast-track the re-stocking of the national reserves two months ago but it is yet to get a response.
Wekesa says the most viable option is for the ministry to use money from the Strategic Food Reserve Fund, which was primarily established for a time of crises like the current one, to buy enough food to last for at least one month.
He says the government should give the go-ahead to purchase maize from Mexico immediately so that te reserves can be stocked by May.
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