Court decision to halt maize imports hailed

The High Court has been lauded on its ruling to suspend plans to import four million bags of maize to avert a possible food crisis.

Greenpeace Africa in a statement to newsrooms said that it has on several occasions called upon officials at the Ministry of Agriculture to give priority to local farmers who are at the forefront of cushioning Kenyans against hunger instead of importing subsidized maize.

Responding to these developments, Greenpeace Africa’s Campaigner Amos Wemanya said: “Plans to import maize at a time when local farmers are struggling to cope with the challenges presented by floods, locust invasion and Covid-19 was ill-advised.

The High Court suspension gives a second chance to reconsider the decision and make the right choices by putting smallholder farmers first before profits,” said Wemanya.

According to Wemanya, cheap importation of subsidized maize into Kenya reduces the market for local maize that is produced by mainly small-holder farmers who feed Kenyans. This leaves many farmers and workers in the agricultural related industries without a source of income.

“Greenpeace Africa lauds the move by Okiya Omtatah to challenge the decision to import maize. Kenyans have been exposed to food safety issues before and going by the specifications in the gazette notice, the intended maize to be imported could present food safety issues,” said Wemanya.

The government needs to support local food systems by purchasing local foodstuffs and reverse the growing reliance on imports, he noted.

Wemanya called for policies that focus on supporting local markets regulated by local communities, building and managing local food storage capacity for future needs and improvement of local infrastructures to enable farmers to get their produce to local markets shall help build a resilient food system in Kenya.

Last week, Justice Pauline Nyamweya issued the directive in a case challenging the National Treasury’s decision to allow private millers to import dry maize.

 “In the interim period and pending the hearing and determination of this case, all 41 gazetted millers are hereby restrained from releasing, distributing, selling or in any manner facilitating the use and consumption of any maize imported, pursuant to notice No 3234 dated April 17, published in a special issue of the Kenya Gazette,” said Justice Nyamweya.

The government was planning to import four million bags of maize to avert a possible food crisis in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.


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