Four Mount Kenya counties were listed among the 22 regions whose residents are on the brink of starvation.
On Friday May 20, Gazette Notice listed Embu, Tharaka Nithi, Meru and Nyeri counties among the 22 counties whose residents have been affected by the severe drought that has ravaged parts of the country.
Other counties are Tana River, Kwale, Lamu, Kilifi, Mandera, Garissa, Wajir, Marsabit, Isiolo, Kitui, Makueni, Turkana, West Pokot, Baringo, Samburu, Laikipia, Narok and Kajiado.
Undated picture of corn being stored in a warehouse
The Mount Kenya region is one of the richest agricultural zones in the country and plays a crucial role in securing Kenya’s food basket. However, insufficient rainfall and a prolonged dry season have left residents facing hunger and a possible acute famine if conditions don’t improve.
In the Gazette release, the government — through the Department of Gender Equality in Public Services, Senior Citizens’ Affairs and Special Programs — has formed committees to help draw up urgent plans to mitigate the effects of the drought in the 22 counties.
“The Public Finance Management (National Drought Emergency Fund) Regulations, 2021, the Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizen Affairs and Special Programs, appoints members of the respective Borough Drought Committee for a three (3) year term,” read the message in part.
At the same time, the government has allowed imports of duty-free corn in an amount of 540,000 tons to solve shortages in the country and fight hunger in the listed counties.
“By the provisions of Section 20 Part B of Schedule Fifth of the Act, and as a result of notification by the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Co-operatives of an imminent corn crisis in the country, an exemption from import duties was granted for the importation of not more than 540,000 tons of whites , Non-Genetically Modified Organisms (Non-Genetically Modified) Corn Kernels Granted,” said Treasury CS, Ukur Yatani, in a statement.
In the notice, the government explained that the exemption from import duties applies to white non-GMO corn imported into Kenya on or before August 6, 2022, and that each shipment thereof must meet certain conditions.
Here are the conditions that importers must meet:
(a) The imported maize must be non-GMO (non-GMO) in accordance with the laws of Kenya and the Kenyan standards established under the laws of Kenya and implemented by the National Biosafety Authority and the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
(b) The imported corn shall have a moisture content not exceeding 13.5% as provided for in the Laws of Kenya and the Kenyan Standards (KS EAS2:2017) governed by the Laws of Kenya and implemented by the Kenya Bureau of Standards .
(c) The level of aflatoxins in each shipment of corn shall not exceed ten (10) parts per billion (ppb) as required by the Laws of Kenya and the Kenyan Standards (KS EAS2:2017) implemented by the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the Ministry are for public health of the Ministry of Health.
d) Imported maize shall be accompanied by a Certificate of Conformity issued by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
Sacks of corn at an NCPB depot.
(e) The corn must have been imported on or before August 6, 2022.
(f) The imported corn must meet all other legal requirements under the relevant laws of Kenya.