Nairobi News


We must stand with our farmers, Edwin Sifuna says as GMO debate rages on

By Wangu Kanuri November 22nd, 2022 2 min read

Nairobi Senator, Edwin Sifuna, has waded into the ongoing debate on genetically modified organisms maize, saying it is not about food security but a waged war between farmers and traders.

His sentiments come a time when 10,000 tonnes of maize imports will be docking in Mombasa on Tuesday, even before a gazette notice has been published.

Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industrialization, Moses Kuria is on record for saying the importation of duty-free genetically modified maize is meant to curb the runaway inflation in the country.

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The shipments, Kuria said, are expected to plug the gap triggered by reduced harvest in the wake of prolonged drought.

However, in response Mr Sifuna has termed the move as a commercial war between farmers and traders.

“The commercial war between farmers and traders has raged on for years in the Sugar belt. Sadly the sugar farmers lost that one. The GMO debate isn’t about food security. Its the new frontier of this war between farmers and traders. We must stand with our maize farmers,” Sifuna tweeted.

According to Kuria, GMO maize is set to rattle local maize farmers who have ordinarily hoarded maize to drive up prices which has often led to high prices of maize flour.

“We have taken deliberate decisions to improve the current dire food situation in the country. We have decided to allow the importation of GMO maize into the country until the food situation improves,” he said.

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With maize being a staple food in Kenya’s households, its production has not been consistent enough due to lack of rainfall. Its shortage has resulted in skyrocketing of the price of maize flour from Sh130 for a two-kilogram packet at the start of the year to more than Sh200 months to and after the August General Election.

In 2013, which was also an election year, the price of a 2kg packet of flour shot up from Sh70 to Sh130. A similar trend occurred in 2017 — also an election year —when prices hit Sh189 a packet. In June this year, a packet was retailing at above Sh200, the highest in Kenya’s history.

The uncertainty of its availability saw supermarkets limiting the number of packets their customers bought and at some point there was no flour on the shelves.

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