Pressing Kenya’s rewind button will lead us to 2009 when the price of Maize Flour was about Ksh150. Despite this high prize and dire maize shortage in the country, the hand of corruption reached into Kenya’s maize reserve and ripped out 80,000 bags of maize valued at Ksh150 million. Briefcase maize millers that were allocated the maize allegedly sold this maize to South Sudan.
The 2009 maize scandal and high maize prices should remind us that we have been down this road before. Politicians should therefore not pretend that current high prices are unprecedented. Every minute we spend pointing fingers and playing politics is a minute lost in terms of putting lasting solutions on the table.
Pressing Kenya’s forward button might lead us to a time five or ten years from now when there will be yet another maize flour shortage and sky-high prices for commodities. The only way to avoid that future scenario is to focus entirely on suffering Kenyans and commit us to presenting them with lasting solutions that will ensure food availability and accessibility.
Discussions are abundant on what Kenya can do to ensure food security. Some have suggested diversification of our food so that the three million bags of maize that Kenyans consume monthly can be drastically reduced. Others have called for drought resistant maize seeds that take a shorter time to mature and yield more.
On my end, I have often suggested that we roll out farmer driven irrigation solutions across the country so that we do not only dependent on increasingly unreliable rainfall. In order to avoid placing too much pressure on our ground water, I have made the case that when it does rain, we shouldn’t allow even one drop of rainwater to be wasted. This means that rainwater-harvesting infrastructure in both rural and urban areas should be as present as window grills. I am strong believer that our households as a whole and farmers in particular should be enabled to access water in a smart and sustainable manner.
There is however, a huge disconnect between the solutions that Kenyans are offering on TV, newspapers, villages plus streets and what politicians and lawmakers are doing. As Kenyans focus on solutions for current high cost of living , our leaders often focus on scoring political points from that shortage. This is totally unacceptable! Politicians should be leading this conversation on solutions to our food shortage and high prices. More than that, both the current and next parliaments should never tire in enacting legislation that give legs and wings to innovative solutions that will give this country lasting food security.
The next time a political campaign comes to your neighborhood, tell those politicians that mere accusations and finger pointing will not lower the high cost of living. It is our God given responsibility to speak the truth as we face Climate Change and Demographic challenges.Think green, Act green!
Yours in green.
Dr Isaac Kalua