By HENRY OWINO (Senior Correspondent)
The High Court in Kenya has suspended the government’s plan to import four million bags of maize to avert a possible food crisis. The decision was challenged in the court by Mr Okiya Omutata, a Kenyan human rights activist.
Greenpeace Africa applauds High Court decision to halt maize imports arguing that on several occasions, they have called upon Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Peter Munya to prioritize local farmers. This is because the farmers are at the forefront of cushioning Kenyans against hunger instead of importing subsidized maize.
Responding to these developments, Greenpeace Africa’s Campaigner Amos Wemanya has said: “The government’s plan to import maize at a time when local farmers are struggling to cope with the challenges presented by floods, locusts invasion and COVID 19 was ill-advised.
The High Court suspension gives the government a second chance to reconsider its decision and make the right choices by putting smallholder farmers first before profits.
“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 Mr Okiya Omtatah to challenge the government’s 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.
“The government needs to support local food systems by purchasing local foodstuffs and reverse the growing reliance on imports. 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.