Only 731,000 bags left in food re­serves to feed starv­ing 1.5m

But De­vo­lu­tion CS Ki­un­juri says sit­u­a­tion not out of hand. ‘I can prom­ise that as long as I am the min­is­ter, no Kenyan will die of hunger’

The Star (Kenya) - - News - JAMES MBAKA @onchir­im­baka (+)

The State­gic Food Re­serves has only 731,000 bags of maize against the re­quired four mil­lion bags to feed the 1.5 mil­lion starv­ing Kenyans.

Agri­cul­ture CS Willy Bett yes­ter­day said an in­ter-min­is­te­rial Na­tional Drought Steer­ing Com­mit­tee has mo­bilised Sh5 bil­lion to feed the hun­gry for nine months.

De­vo­lu­tion CS Mwangi Ki­un­juri and Trea­sury PS Ka­mau Thugge promised MPs that the money is avail­able to buy food from re­gions with a sur­plus and trans­port to those fac­ing hunger.

Government officers told the com­mit­tee that pro­jec­tions in­di­cate per- sis­tent drought has wors­ened the sit­u­a­tion, with short rains ex­pected. “The sit­u­a­tion is not out of hand. I can prom­ise that as long as I am the min­is­ter, no Kenyan will die of hunger,” Ki­un­juri said.

Thugge added, “Once we get a re­quest, we will re­lease money. There is money”.

Bett told the Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee that they had ap­plied for Sh1.3 bil­lion from the Na­tional Trea­sury on Mon­day to buy more grains from farm­ers to shore up their re­serves.

“Un­der nor­mal circumstances, we should have at least four mil­lion bags in SFR and money to buy an equal num­ber of bags just for emer­gency cases,” the CS said.

He, how­ever, said as long as Trea- sury re­leases the money, the min­istry can buy more maize from farm­ers.

Bett said about 9.5 mil­lion bags are be­ing held by farm­ers in North Rift. The CS said farm­ers in the coun­try’s bread­bas­ket are cur­rently har­vest­ing their crop, ex­press­ing op­ti­mism that they will meet the tar­get of pro­vid­ing an ex­tra 34 mil­lion bags of maize to the mar­ket.

But the late req­ui­si­tion for funds an­gered MPs, who won­dered why the mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures are be­ing em­ployed late yet the signs of the cur­rent hunger and drought were de­tected four months ago. Com­mit­tee chair­man Adan Noor crit­i­cised the government rep­re­sen­ta­tives for “ex­chang­ing of memos” when starv­ing Kenyans await emer­gency re­lief.

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