June 2020: Reforming the Strategic Food Reserve and Widening the Food Basket

One of the pillars of the Big four agenda announced by the President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2018 is Food Security and Nutrition. Since this sector forms part of the priority agenda to be implemented between 2018 and 2022, the Ministry of Agriculture developed the Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy (ASTGs) to hasten reforms in the ministry and in the sector.

The ASTGs has 9 strategies, one of which is to restructure the Strategic Food Reserve.9 Strategies of the Agricultural Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy

In May 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture issued a Statement on the Strategic Food Reserve and the Reforms of the NCPB

As stated in this statement, the governmnet intends to take a new policy direction by focussing more on policy and regulation to create an enabling environment for farmers. The Ministry will no longer be involved in the sale of Maize, fertiliser or Farm inputs but will concentrate on fulfilling its policy role in the sector.

On May 20, 2020, the Minister begun working on the reforms by constituting a technical working committee to implement them. The reforms road map looks like this:

However, a temporary order was procured in June 2020 to stop the abolishment of the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund, due to a lack of public participation.

The Strategic Food Reserve

Restructuring the Food Reserve will reduce the frequent Maize Scandals in the Country. Only 5% of Kenya is suitable for the farming of Maize. The rest is more suitable for crops such as Sorghum, Millet and Cassava. Many people are undernourished because the country relies heavily on Maize and we need to move the conversation from an emphasise on Maize to other crops that grow in Kenya. When the policy on food and national security from grains to food is proposed an inclusion of fish, milk and pulses.

The pathways to food security are

1. Transfers to chronically food insecure areas

2. Manage volatility in prices

The court recently ruled against the Agriculture CS Peter Munya's attempt to

The Warehouse Receipt Trading System has already been rolled out in the Country. However, Private sector is not regulated or controlled. Leasing of part of the warehouses from NCPB is the first step and it will be developed to feed into the Kenya National Multi Commodity Exchange (KOMEX).  These Institutional reforms will also eliminate overlapping roles.

Reforms of the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB)

National Cereals and Produce Board Reforms

The ministry intends to restructure the National Food Reserve (NFR) and the Food Balance Sheet (FBS) within the NCPB, commercialise the NCPB through the NCPB Trading Division (NTD) and lease out storage to private sector.

The Food Balance Sheet Committee will have a broad array representatives to provide statistical input and advisory services that will guide decision making on the Strategic Food Reserve. Information from KRA on all the food imports coming into the country, information from warehouses on what is being stored will tell us how much food is available can be used to inform the ministry.

The NTD will allow the NCPB to separate commercial interests from the NFR functions.

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