'Eat rice or potatoes': Agriculture CS Linturi tells Kenyans amid maize shortage

'Eat rice or potatoes': Agriculture CS Linturi tells Kenyans amid maize shortage

Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi during a past briefing. PHOTO | COURTESY

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has now called on Kenyans to consume other food products apart from maize owing to the prolonged shortage being witnessed in the country.

Speaking on Tuesday when he appeared before the Parliamentary committee on Agriculture and Livestock, CS Linturi said other countries are presently unwilling to sell their maize to Kenya in fear of a looming shortage and thus citizens should consider alternatives.

The CS, to support this, said the government has since already imported about 43 metric tonnes of rice into the country to ensure there is enough food supply.

“We are trying to look for maize out there but the truth of the matter is that it is not there,” explained Linturi.

“Some of the countries we have approached do not want to share their maize with us because they are afraid of their food security. I, therefore, urge Kenyans to embrace rice, potatoes, and other food substitutes. We have already brought tonnes of rice and we are bringing more next week.”

The CS consequently expressed the government’s commitment to ensuring there is adequate food to cushion Kenyans following the prolonged drought, saying it had also imported 1,305 metric tonnes of maize.

“We have put in place adequate mechanisms to ensure the country has enough food. We expect when these commodities come into the market, prices will come down,” the CS said.

In the same light, Linturi implored farmers to sell their maize to the government since importation would lower the prices in the market.

“In another ten days, we will have landed in this country with enough rice and maize. I ask you, members, to ask farmers to release any maize they are holding as prices will crush when this maize comes in," he said.

Linturi’s remarks follow those of his predecessor, former Agriculture CS Peter Munya, who made a similar statement last year where he urged Kenyans not to over-depend on maize, which is the country’s staple food, but to try other types of indigenous foods.

“We are looking to remove the import charges and we have begun looking for maize in the neighbouring countries since our country has been experiencing drought. We are in talks with countries like Zambia and Uganda...and I don’t want to talk much before the deal is finalised,” he said in July 2022.

“If you go through this agricultural show, you will see different types of food; it is good that Kenyans don’t eat only one type of food when they grow different varieties. For our bodies to have strength, we need to depend on other types of food other than maize.”

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