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Updated Jun 1, 2020
Locusts Kenya
Locusts fly over a scrub at Larisoro village near Archers Post, Kenya, on January 21, 2020. (Tony Karumba/AFP)

 

Peter Munya, Kenya’s agriculture cabinet secretary, confirmed that the national government is not importing maize at the present time, pursuant to a ruling by the High Court of Kenya on April 17 that suspended the government’s plan to import 4 million bags of maize to avert a food crisis caused by COVID-19 prevention measures. Munya insisted there was no need to worry over food shortages, pointing to fortuitous rains that helped crop growth and regeneration in some of Kenya’s most food insecure regions.

 

Kenya is still battling a second, larger locust infestation

 

The secretary also assured reporters and the Kenyan people that the government will be monitoring the price of maize to prevent exploitation during the pandemic. Munya’s claims that there is minimal risk of food shortages beggars belief, as farmers in the North Rift province had filed a lawsuit on March 30 to protect the local market, after the Strategic Food Reserve announced it had exhausted its stock of emergency provisions. This while Kenya is still battling a second, larger locust infestation that has devastated some of this year’s harvest.

Alongside the economic concerns of domestic millers, the High Court intervened against the subsidized maize import scheme following a challenge by human rights activist Okiya Omtatah, noting that the government’s plan allowed for the import of dry maize that does not meet standard set by the East African Community, of which Kenya is a member.

 

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