We’ll buy 52m bags of farmers maize, says CS
Trade and Investments Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria yesterday appeared to backtrack on the government plan to import 10 million bags of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) duty free maize, instead turning its focus on buying the commodity from farmers.
In a statement posted on his official Facebook account yesterday, Kuria said the government will first mop up upto 52 million bags from local farmers before considering any importation of additional maize.
Of the 52 million bags, 20 million are being held by farmers while the balance of 32 million will be harvested in the next two weeks, Kuria said.
“It is estimated that farmers are sitting on 20 million bags of maize. Let them release it to the millers. You can call me if no miller is buying your maize. It is further expected that the farmers are about to harvest 35 million bags in the next two weeks. Urgently deliver that to the millers and so they will not need to import,” posted Kuria.
In October, the government opened the gates for the importation and use of GMOs.
A statement by President William Ruto said the move was after considering many factors, including experts and technical reports on the adoption of biotechnology.
Kuria’s remarks came just a day after a number of leaders led by Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga opposed the importation of GMO maize into the country.
Raila who urged Kenyans to oppose planned importation of GMO maize said the lifting of the ban was illegal as the required processes for such a decision were not followedsaying that the people’s voice must be heard and respected.
He in particular asked Kuria to apologize over remarks he made on GMO foods after he said that there is nothing wrong adding GMO foods on the list of things that kill Kenyans.
“Cabinet Secretary for Trade and Investment Moses Kuria’s remarks on this matter are regrettable. To say that even without GMOs, Kenyans will die anyway is a mockery to the people of Kenya,” he added.
And in a press conference at Parliament Buildings yesterday, Pokot South MP David Pkosing said he is going to file a petition in Parliament seeking to stop any form of importation of maize by the government.
He said Kenyans were expecting a bumper harvest and were shocked to hear Kuria saying that the government intends to import 10 million bags of maize.
“Our farmers are currently harvesting, we expect a very good harvest but instead of the government telling the farmers how much the maize will be bought, the CS in charge is talking of imports. We will resist as leaders,” Pkosing told the press.
The MP claimed that Kuria was being influenced by multinationals in Europe and the US to buy maize from them.
“We resist any import GMO or not, we expect the government to buy maize from us and the amount we anticipate is Sh4,500,” Pkosing said.
Nandi senator Samson Cherargei and Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa also opposed the importation of GMO maize saying it will disadvantage farmers.
Cherargei in his official twitter account was categorical that the importation of duty free maize was not fair to maize farmers because of its wrong timing. “In the Rift Valley we are currently harvesting maize now it shall lower prices of maize. We shall tomorrow meet MPs of maize growing areas to develop a sustainable solution on the matter.”
Barasa on his Facebook account opposed the importation of maize saying GMO is for countries situated in deserts not in Kenya where the country experiences perennial floods.
Lawyer Miguna Miguna on Sunday also opposed the importation of GMO maize saying the public should have been consulted before such a decision is made.
“I say a firm NO to the mad rush to import GMO maize and other foods to Kenya. I believe that it’s irresponsible and amounts to recklessness on the part of the Kenya Kwanza government. Such national policy shifts should be preceded by wide national consultations and debates,” said
“I, Didmus Wekesa Barasa Mutua, the son of a widow, don’t support importation of GMO related foodstuffs. Will only do when and or until such a time when we would have equipped our hospitals with proper disease diagnostic equipment. GMO is for countries situated in deserts not in Kenya where we experience perennial floods,” posted Barasa.
And in his statement yesterday, Kuria was categorical that the government will not import any maize into the country.
He instead clarified that the gazette notice he intends to issue will only open up the market to millers and anyone to import maize duty free for six months.
Kuria, however, assured that the government would continue monitoring the situation in the country especially now that the October- December rains are expected to fall short of expectations.