Adan Haji, chair of the parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Livestock, said all crops are in dire need of attention and asked the government to intervene before the situation becomes disastrous.
Haji, speaking during the 8th East African Grain Council (EAGC) summit recently held in Mombasa, intimated that the excitement of the President’s Big Four Agenda was not visible in the agricultural sector, which has not been adequately funded.
“According to the Maputo Declaration, the food sector ought to get 10 percent of the country’s GDP, which is not the case in Kenya, and I urge the President to read the mood of the farmers in Kenya, that the agricultural sector is ailing, climate change is terrorizing farmers and it is time we begin the conversation on how to resuscitate agriculture in Kenya,” he stated.
Hamadi Boga, principal secretary of the state Department for Crop Development and Agricultural Research, observed that there is an ever-increasing demand for maize due to the increase in population in Kenya. He said the country is not producing enough maize for food as well as for animal feed.
“We are competing for the same grain with the animal feed, raising the prices in the market as well as for the feed companies, since there is no discrimination in pricing, whether it will be used for food or for feed,” Boga said. “Therefore, importing animal feed is a common-sense thing to do.”
Boga, who was speaking at the same EAGC summit, emphasized the need for a policy shift in regard to GMO crops as a possible solution to the challenges facing Kenyan farmers. He noted that Kenya is currently importing fish from China, which is cheaper in the market because China is importing GM maize and soy as fish food from the United States.
In this way, GMOs are still getting into Kenya, he pointed out. “Let us stop this hypocrisy and put things on the table and discuss this topic of biotechnology objectively, so that all of us are able to access these technologies.
His call came at a time when more scientists are pushing to lift the ban on GMO crops in a move to boost food sustainability and enhance economic development not only for Kenya, but for the whole of East Africa.