Twelve million Kenyans in 23 counties face starvation as the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has finished up its reservoirs of maize in its stores.
The NCPB says that it sold all the maize to millers to meet an increased demand.
The agency sold all its grain including 300,000 bags of maize purchased during the last harvest.
“We have sold everything we had. The current shortage has to be handled at high government policy level,” NCPB Managing Director Joseph Kimote said.
Kimote further castigated millers who have accused the agency of favouritism while selling the grain citing that the agency used a transparent process.
“The board earned profit from the sales and the process has been closed,” he said.
In the last financial year NCPB was demanding for a Sh10.3billion cautionary fund to replenish their food stock.
However, millers protested the move citing that they offer better prices and payments are swift.
Currently the farmers in Kenya produce 3.2 million metric tonnes of maize annually against a demand of 3.8 million metric tonnes.
The agency initially was to purchase three million bags of maize at Sh7.56 billion and 50,000 bags of beans at Sh405 million to stock the National Food Reserve.
A report by NCPB chairman Mutea Iringo indicated that the agency was also to buy 30,000 bags of green grams at Sh270 million and 20,000 bags of powdered milk at Sh340 million.
“Consumers are already struggling with rising prices of commodities. Implementation of these recommendations will be crucial in mitigating rising costs of wheat and maize should the situation persist,” millers in a message to the Ministry of Agriculture.
The millers have called on the government to negotiate with Zambian and Tanzanian authorities to facilitate importation of six million bags of maize to meet the current shortage and lower flour prices that have hit Sh165, up from Sh130 per two-kilogramme packet.
“It is critical that the government supports transport and logistics for the importation of maize.
This is because of the high cost of transporting produce from neighbouring countries, which ultimately drives up the price of finished products,” said the millers.
At least 10 millers have laid off their workers due to the shortage.