Officials at the Galana Kulalu irrigation scheme are in a dilemma over the fate of the 400,000 bags of maize which are part of the harvest from the project for lack of guidelines on procurement and distribution.
They say it is either the harvest is sold or given out to those already hit by drought and famine, especially in Tana River, the host county which is one of those listed in the 13 food deficient counties. The neighbouring Kilifi county is also among those affected by hunger.
“We are not sure what to do with the maize, either to give it to the locals because selling it would require a procurement policy to guide us,” said the official.
Ironically, the government on Friday announced the formation of a special inter-ministerial committee to mitigate the effects of drought in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands— comprising 13 out the 47 counties— where an estimated 1.3 million people are facing starvation.
Addressing the press on Friday, Devolution Cabinet secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, said the team will asses the situation and come up with intervention measures to ensure no Kenyan dies of hunger.
He added that the State will give them relief food and water, health and nutrition services and livestock disease control services.
Players in the grain industry have demanded know what the government plans to do with the maize it has harvested in two seasons from the first 1,000 acres.
Eastern African Grain Council executive director Gerald Masila and Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Research and Policy Development director Mary Mathenge urged the government to say how it will utilise the harvest.
In early September, the government blocked millers from buying 20, 000 bags of maize directly from the Galana irrigation scheme. National Irrigation Board said four millers had approached but the government directed that the maize be stored at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) silos in Voi.
“We were approached by four private millers willing to buy all the maize but we will go with NCPB. We are expecting to harvest 40 bags per acre,” said Daniel Barasa, former NIB director general.