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Responding to the Current Food Situation in Kenya: Challenges and Opportunities
a Presentation by Diamond Lalji, Chairman, Cereal Millers Association
at the Kenya's food situation: challenges and opportunities Roundtable
held at Laico regency hotel, Nairobi on 18th september, 2009

 

The presentation by Mr. Lalji was on Responding to the Current Food Situation in Kenya: Challenges and Opportunities. He indicated that the Government has initiated some programmes to boost production of maize in response to the shortage of maize experienced following political skirmishes early last year, erratic weather patterns and depleted strategic reserves. However, challenges still remain and he enumerated them as: productivity levels for maize that are below potential; land remains under-exploited for agricultural production; productivity of the sector is constrained by inefficiencies in the supply chain resulting from limited storage capacity, lack of post harvest services and poor access to input markets; limited ability to add value to agricultural produce; and, food shortages in the country hence undermining the food security situation in the country. This has led to uncertainty and speculation in the market, the consequence of which is significantly higher prices.

With regard to opportunities, Mr. Lalji focused on short- and long-term recommendations. In the short-term, he suggested removing duties on maize grain and liberalizing the grain market. Zero % duty would encourage unimpeded movement of maize from surplus to deficit areas this being critical in ensuring that the regional food security is sustained. Also, consequent liberalization of the grain market will remove the uncertainty faced by millers regarding adequate supplies of maize grain. In the long-term, Mr. Lalji proposed the following: increase in productivity by farmers; government support for input subsidies for maize farmers as has been done in Malawi; irrigation intensification and expansion; increase market access through value addition by processing, packaging and branding the bulk of agricultural produce; and, reduction of food manufacturing and distribution costs, specifically those associated with fuel, electricity, packaging and handling at the Port of Mombasa. In conclusion, he quoted from Vision 2030 and suggested that this should be our guide:
‘To deliver on this ambitious process of national transformation will require a fundamental shift: from business as usual to business unusual (from multiple and often uncoordinated levels of decision making to centralized implementation process); a new management philosophy (from a limited sense of urgency to relentless follow up); legislation (from slow, reactive to fast, proactive legislating); special budgeting (from low and dispersed to high and ‘ring-fenced’ investments) as well as management of top talent (from shortage of skills to a war for Talent).

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