The government may start importing maize at the end of this week to mitigate hunger in the country, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett has said.
Mr Bett said this would also protect Kenyans as farmers and businessmen hoard maize expecting to cash in on a price explosion.
“We shall announce at the end of the week whether to import maize or not but we have warned hoarders that they stand to suffer,” he said.
Speaking at the Export Trading Group company godowns in Miritini on Monday, Mr Bett said a spot check had shown that many businessmen and farmers were hoarding maize expecting a major price rise.
“We have gone round the country and discovered that the problem is not that we are facing famine because there isn’t enough maize, it’s because farmers and top businessmen are hoarding maize,” he observed.
He added that hoarders will be beaten at their own game when the government starts to import the produce.
With maize prices increasing, he said stakeholders must agree on a suitable price in order to protect consumers.
“I have met millers and urged them not to increase the maize flour prices because this will hurt wananchi a lot.
“Already, the price is going up with a bag of maize selling at Sh3,400, up from Sh3,000 while the price of a 2kg maize flour packet is selling at Sh110 in some places, up from Sh97,” he said.
The CS said the hunger in the country was still precarious but assured citizens that the government was on top of things.
“…the situation turned out worse than predicted. The number of affected people suddenly rose to 1.5 million and now it is at 2 million,” he said.