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UDA legislators from maize growing regions oppose maize importation

The leaders want the government to halt the maize importation plans until local farmers fully sell their produce.

Samson Cherargei

Political leaders from maize-growing areas in the country, especially from the Rift Valley have exhorted the government to immediately stop the plans to import maize until the farmer's 2022 harvests have been cleared.

The legislators some of who are affiliated with the reigning faction of the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) want the government to put the interests of the farmers from the maize-planting regions to be put first before the government resolves to import maize from other countries.

The leaders said they will be meeting Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi and Trade, Investment and Industry Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria to discuss the way forward on plans to import maize as the government makes a move to curb the ravaging hunger that is fiercely taking a toll on Kenyans.

Samson Cherargei, Nandi Senator who is among the leaders against plans to import 10 million bags of maize to mitigate the current drought and hunger crisis in the country, said the MPs from the region will do everything possible to stop the plans to import the duty-free imports.

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The outspoken legislator told CS Moses Kuria to suspend the plan until February to allow farmers to harvest their maize and sell it before considering the said importation of maize from outside the country.

The senator said farmers from the maize-growing parts of the Rift Valley are anticipating a bumper harvest, hence importation of the maize will flood local markets at their expense.

“For farmers in the North Rift and most parts of Kenya where we plant maize, this is the harvest season and we thought it wise that the Ministry of Trade should hold on importation of maize until we harvest ours and the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) opens the stores for farmers to deliver their produce,” Cherargei said.

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Cherargei also wants the government to set viable prices for maize from farmers ahead of the anticipated harvest.

The senator said that the importation of 10 million bags of maize will greatly affect the prices of maize from the local farmers bearing in mind that the cost of farming inputs during the last planting season had gone through the roof.

He defended farmers against claims that they were hiding maize in anticipation of better prices and accused NCPB of delaying the opening of their stores for farmers to start delivering their produce.

“NCPB has not opened its stores and prices have not been set. I wonder why CS Kuria says that farmers are not bringing maize yet the stores have not been opened to receive maize from farmers,” he said.

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Moses Kuria sparked a storm after making claims that there was no harm in importing GMO maize as Kenyans were, in any case, dying from so many causes and the consumption of genetically modified maize should not be a worry.

“We have two deliberate steps. One is that we have so many things that can kill us in this country,” he said at the Strathmore Business School during a Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises forum. “Living in this country you are a candidate for death,” he said.

The leaders also want the government to desist from lowering maize prices and instead ensure the buying price is proportional to the cost of inputs for fair compensation for their efforts.

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