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 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.