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State seeks to ensure food security in Covid-19 war

Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga. His ministry is working on boosting food safety as coronavirus pandemic rages. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

In Summary

  • Counties are required to create awareness through local media and other means so as to quickly establish the sources of food.
  • They have also been tasked with regularly tracking food availability situations to know the changing levels of stocks

The government has begun mopping up surplus food supplies in the country as part of its preparedness in combating the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ministry of Agriculture has called on counties that are likely to have surplus staple foods to urgently provide data on the volumes and current prices.

In a letter dated March 29 to the Council of Governors, Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga said the measures are meant to ensure smooth supply of “staple, nutritious foods at affordable prices for a majority of the population”.

He said modalities are being put in place to ensure the mapping and provision of subsidised food to “targeted, acute food-insecure households, and that millers and key processors access commodities with minimal disruption to routine operations.

“In order to manage the food security situation at both the national and county levels during the emergency period, there is a need for urgent collection and timely sharing of data and information across all levels of governments,” Prof Boga said.

EMERGENCY PERIOD

The foods listed are rice, maize, beans, green grams, pigeon peas, wheat, millet and sorghum.

“The purpose of this letter is to kindly request you to inform the CEC members in charge of Agriculture for the list of counties attached to undertake county data validation and sharing of the same data for the targeted staples.

The targeted counties are Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega, Kisumu, Kisii, Migori, Siaya, Homa Bay, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Bomet and Nyamira.

Others are Nandi, Kericho, Narok, Nakuru, Kiambu, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Embu, Meru, Nyeri, Laikipia, Nyandarua, Taita-Taveta, Kwale, Kilifi, Machakos, Kitui and Makueni.

Prof Boga said that throughout “this period of emergency”, his office would remain open to provide any additional guidelines to facilitate urgent field data collection and sharing.

The government will buy the cereals and pulses from individuals, companies and organisations that might have “stocks of food for sale, for preservation, or for other futuristic uses, and the food can be accessed quickly by the government to mitigate the Covid-19 food security challenges.”

AWARENESS

Targeted suppliers are medium scale farmers, traders, aggregators and brokers/middlemen.

The counties are also required to create awareness through local media and other means so as to quickly establish the sources of food.

They are also required to develop simple, rapid communication tools to reach out to the data sources.

“These can be phone calls or e-mails. Where possible, field officers can visit the nearest sources to establish the quantities. When collecting data, encourage data sources to provide photos of whatever they have, for example through WhatsApp or mobile phones,” the letter says.

They have also been tasked with regularly tracking food availability situations to know the changing levels of stocks and send the reports simultaneously to the county commissioners and the ministry.

SOURCE: nation.co.ke

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