Im partnership with the private sector, Kenya is set to import at least 700,000 bags of maize by June – in a bid to ensure the country’s food security, according to a report from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Of the maize to be imported, 600,000 bags will be from member states of the East African Community (EAC) while the private sector will import at least 150,000 bags from outside the region, the ministry’s latest food security report says.Previous maize imports to Kenya have largely been from Uganda and Tanzania. In 2008, the country imported 200,000MT of maize – worth over US Dollar 90 million – from Uganda to avert a then looming food crisis.

The Kenyan government also intends to freeze maize exports to other nations and expects a harvest of 10 million bags by June, the ministry said in the report.”From this balance sheet, if anticipated short rains production is achieved and imports sustained at current rates with no exports, the national stocks level as at June 30 is estimated to be a surplus of 7.4 million bags,” according to the report.

The country’s staple, maize is consumed by 90 per cent of the people Kenya but in the past months, the report indicated, maize imports had declined due to a rise in supplies from Kenyan farmers.”The increase in stocks at various levels is mainly attributed to additional stocks from long rains harvests in the North Rift (region) and short rains harvests from Western region and Nyanza province,” the report stated.

The report painted a favourable picture for Kenya’s food security situation in the coming months, as it emerges from its worst famine in decades in 2011, which saw millions of people starve.Prices of main food commodities such as maize, rice, millet, sorghum and potatoes are likely to remain stable in the coming months if the current supply levels are maintained, the ministry stated.

Meanwhile, Rwanda has announced plans to increase the production of the country’s maize and commercialize it in order to increase income for the predominantly small scale farmers.Dativa Mukaniyonzima, in charge of Internal Trade in Rwanda’s Ministry of Commerce told the Independent the East African News Agency (EANA) on Saturday that Rwanda targets at least 700.000 tonnes by the end of season 2011-2012.Eastern Rwanda is the country’s biggest maize producer, where 320,000 tonnes of maize produce are expected, according to Mukaniyonzima.

By JAMES GASHUMBA, Tanzania Daily News

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