The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has allayed fears over food shortage after it emerged that maize reserve stores are empty.
Appearing before Agriculture Parliamentary Committee, NCPB chairman Mutea Iringo urged the Members of Parliament to come up with interventions to avert a food crisis.
Iringo said the board needs Sh10.34 billion to fill up its depleted stores.
“The National Food Reserve stock is totally depleted and there is need therefore for immediate build-up of requisite stocks to address the precarious national food and nutrition security status,” he said.
“We have nothing in store and we cannot support the government’s efforts to provide relief food to needy Kenyans.”
The board is seeking to purchase 2.8 million bags of local white maize at Sh2,700 per unit, 50,000 bags of beans at Sh8,100 per unit, 30,000 bags of green grams at 9,000 per unit, and 100,000 bags of rice at Sh6,000 per unit.
Other foodstuffs in the proposed budget are 20,000 bags of powdered milk at Sh17,000 per unit and 20,000 cartons of canned beef at Sh8,500 per carton. The board further seeks to purchase five million pieces of jute bags at a total cost of Sh1 billion.
However, the committee chaired by Moiben MP Silas Tiren, challenged the board to account for the billions of shillings allocated by the Treasury to purchase cereals
The MPs wanted the board to explain how it spent Sh7 billion on non-core mandates after top officials said the money was used to pay debts to millers, agencies, transporters and other players in the programme between 2017 and 2019.
They also wanted the board to explain how Sh12 billion the board inherited from the defunct Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) was utilised.
“We have never been told how the money was spent. You should first tell us where the money is before we allocate you more,” said Tiren.
Kimote denied claims that the board took over the funds left by SFR, which was
disbanded a decade ago.
However, the MPs said they would not approve any money allocations until the board breaks down the food agency planned to purchase.
In September, President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the drought a national disaster following a national rainfall report.
Due to the poor rainfall and low crop production, 2.1 million Kenyans and refugees are facing acute food insecurity in the next 6 months.
However, Government spokesperson Col. (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna yesterday disclosed that the government has availed Sh2.4 billion to be used to get food supplies to 23 counties hard hit by drought.
The allocation is aimed at covering the months of October and November has been boosted by a further Sh1.5 billion that was announced by the President during Mashujaa Day celebrations.
“The government continues to provide support to alleviate the impact of drought in the affected parts of the country. As Government, we wish to inform our people that we have mobilized sufficient food stocks to be distributed to all the affected until the situation normalizes,” Oguna said.
Of the 23 affected counties, there are 13 counties currently classified as being in severely affected and under huge food distress, and which immediate interventions are being made to reach the populations therein.
These counties include Baringo, Garissa, Isiolo, Kilifi, Kwale, Lamu, Kitui, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, and Wajir. In these counties, the government has been able to distribute foods such as maize, rice, beans, vegetable oils and fortified health food totaling 186,000 kilograms.