All livestock markets along the Kenya/ Tanzania and Kenya/ Somalia borders have been shut indefinitely, Agriculture, Livestock and fisheries Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Ann Nyagah has said.
Other livestock markets that have also been shut are in Narok Kwale, TaitaTaveta , Shambole market in Namanga Kajiado County and also DIF and Dagahaley markets in Wajir.
The shutdown has been prompted by lack of compliance to the set guidelines by government on Covid 19 pandemic considering that Corona Virus case in Wajir were related to livestock trade.
Speaking on Friday at Kilimo House when giving the state of food and nutrition security during the Covid 19 pandemic and the ongoing floods in the country, the CAS said Ilbisil market also in Kajiado is being monitored closely and may soon be shut down if stakeholders continue not to comply with governments regulations.
“While sensitization of stakeholders is being done by most counties, adherence to measures has been weak and thus once closed , the markets will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they have a capacity to enforce the protocols and ensure full compliance before reopening”, Nyagah said
She however said that traders can still be able to access livestock for trade from individuals informally since no slaughterhouses have been shut and the supply of meat is not drastically affected across all counties.
The Ministry , Nyagah said is committed to ensure agri-food supply chain is not responsible for an upsurge of new Covid-19 infections and in response to concerns raised by livestock value chain actors , the Ministry has thus put in place additional guidelines for sausage manufacturers and mobile sausage vendors.
“Sausage supply’s and vendors are now required to adhere to the guidelines and work closely with state department of livestock, public health and county officials in order to minimize cases of propagating Covid 19 among their clients”, she said
On the issue of food balance, the CAS said that farmers across the country are selling their maize to various millers at market rates proof that there is enough local supply for the current demand of maize from last season’s harvest.
She however, continued that the government has initiated the process of maize importation by the private sector through gazette notice of last month April 20th and the imports are meant to fill the gap the country is expecting to experience between the months of June and July 2020.
Nyagah said the ministry further is in the process of getting rid of 124,625 bags of 50kgs each of condemned maize stocks that is unfit for human and animal consumption due to aflatoxin infestation.
“Having received the required license from the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) on Tuesday this week, the maize is already being transported out of the reserves”, she said.
The stock , she confirmed is not new and therefore not included in the calculation of current food balance stocks.
The CAS acknowledged that there has been some fluctuations in prices of cereals notably maize and rice over the past two weeks owing to the disruption of the markets and the transport system.
The government is however in talks with various stakeholders and is keeping a close eye to ensure the changes are temporary and minimal so that food remains affordable.
“The increase in rice prices is a direct result of reduced imports from countries such as Pakistan and as we work on destabilizing the prices, we have put in measures to increase local rice production through the Kenya National Trading Cooperation (KNTC)”, Nyagah said.
As of April 1st 2020, the CAS noted that market price for rice had stabilized at Ksh 140 per kg and farmers have already been paid a total of Ksh. 165 million to increase production to benefit the increased demand.
Nyagah said that since the establishment of Covid 19 food security war room and food security hotline, the government has been monitoring the availability of staple foods to ensure adequate food supply for all Kenyans during this period.
“The national food security war room is complemented y County war rooms and we are able to also monitor the strategies to ensure food insecure households are provided with timely support”, the CAS said.
Nyagah noted that the government has now an action plan to actualize the 1million kitchen gardens initiative that they launched earlier and will be providing starter kits that will include sead inputs of five types of vegetables namely Kale, Spinach, black nightshade amaranths and cowpeas seeds.
“ In partnership with AFD Bank mapping has begun to identify the first 111.000 households across 21 counties while 19,750 beneficiaries have already been funded under the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP) programme and 17,002 beneficiaries under the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP) “, Nyaga said
Governor Muthomi Njuki, Chairman of the Council of Governors Agriculture Committee confirmed that there is enough food up to the month of June and also through the imports of 2 million deficit of maize and also 2 million of yellow maize for feeds from millers.
He called on farmers to continue planting and utilizing the rains way beyond the normal efforts they usually put because no one knows what is going to happen in the next season in terms of enough rains and how long the Covid 19 pandemic is going to take.
On the food security war rooms at County level, the governor said as CoGs they were concerned with availability , accessibility and affordability of food in the country .
He however said that committees headed by CECs of agriculture in Counties have been collecting information on a daily basis based on three things namely what amount of food is available in every county , how much of these food is accessible to farmers and wananchi for acquisition for feeding their families and also the affordability
The monitoring has been going on well, the Muthomi said, noting that 43 out of 47 counties have successfully formed the county food security war rooms and are reporting on a daily basis.
“Four counties however, have not been reporting namely Nyamira, Baringo, Kitui and Nairobi and we are in talks with governors of this counties to ensure their food security war rooms are operationalized”, he said
Muthomi acknowledged that sometimes there have been delays in the reporting form counties and thus not being abel to give current onspot information on the situation since prices and market changes within hours.
The CoG is working very hard to ensure that from next week we will be having digitized information so that we can be having reporting that gives instant information and we are able to plug in at any one time and know amount of food and its availability in every county without having to wait for the report at the end of the week” , he said.
Food security cannot be achieved unless we have a chain of distribution, Mbiuki said, noting that currently there is a ituation where there is laxity in some of the counties in the market protocols such as social distancing, washing of hands and wearing of masks.
“ I want to report that in the whole country, we can only say that there are only two counties , Machakos and Nakuru that have almost 100 percent complied with the directives. We are urging all the other counties to benchmark and follow the two counties.
Another challenge the CoG are concerned with Governor Muthomi said is the influx by neighboring counties into the Kenyan market without observing the procedures of COVID 19.
“We are having problems of markets not only in the livestock sector but also normal market at border level since the level of compliance and enforcement to WHO laid down regulations of Covid 19 is not uniform for all countries.
“The porous borders and protocols is the mandate of national government and together with county governments, should there be any danger those markets at the border points should be closed”, Muthomi said
By Wangari Ndirangu