• April 19, 2024
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Kenya to reduce importation of edible oil by 50 percent next year

Kenya to reduce importation of edible oil by 50 percent next year

Kiambu,

Monday, March 25, 2024

KNA by Wangari Ndirangu

The government has embarked on an ambitious plan to promote the growing of sunflower in a strategy meant to cut down the import bill for edible oils and lower cooking oil prices.

Kenya spends at least Sh160 billion annually to import edible oils from other countries mainly South-East Asian countries Dr Dominic Menjo, a Food Security Advisor in the Office of the President said in an interview they are engaging 34 Counties and working with them towards reducing the imports.

He said that the government last year started the Edible Oil Crops Promotion Project (EOCPP) whose overall objective is to promote the production of edible oil crops in various counties.

“When we started this project, Kenya seed had only 70 tonnes which can only do about 25,000 acres. If we are to rely on sunflower alone, the country will need about 5 million acres and since we are importing 1 million metric tons and each acre produces about 200 litres, the country has procured around 500 tonnes of seed from Zambia,” he said.

He explained that the 70 tonnes that they got from Kenya seeds had already been given out to farmers in Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia Counties to multiply and that currently the government is buying it back through the NCPB and the process is ongoing.

“We believe that the 70 tonnes plus another 30 that was given to ADC to multiply will give us about 70 million kilograms of seed which we can plant two million acres of sunflower for the short rains starting October this year,” he said.

Dr Menjo promises that come next year, the country will have enough edible oils and thus reduce the importation by 50 percent and in the long term stop importing and be a net exporter by 2027.

“We are importing close to 97 percent of what we are using and most of it is palm oil. So what the companies here are doing is refining and packaging and some re-exporting but if we get enough raw materials then the first step is to make sure the family has enough,” Dr Menjo said.

He emphasised that if the Country harvests two million acres that it is targeting by October, then mid next year farmers will have stopped going to the supermarket to buy edible oil because they’ll be pressing their own oil and using it the same way we do maize and saving the Sh160 billion at the end of it.

The excesses, he noted will now go to the processors who will be able to refine them for the market for those people who are not planting.

To be able to continuously have sunflower seeds, the government, Dr Menjo confirmed, has set aside 25,000 acres in Homa Bay which is in the process of producing seedlings. Another 25,000 acres in Siaya has also been set aside for the same.

Migori has even a bigger area and thus he noted that by the end of next year the country will be targeting around 100,000 acres in the Nyanza region before going to the coastal region.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi on Friday during an engagement meeting on the promotion of edible oil crops value chains said edible oil is one of the food items that have a huge weight in Kenya’s food import bill.

The country’s annual consumption for edible oil is an estimated 900,000 metric tonnes against a national production of 80,000 MT of domestically produced edible oil crops.

Bridging this deficit of 820,000 MT is through imports considering that the local production of vegetable oils and fats accounts for less than 9 percent of the local demand.

Cabinet Secretary Agriculture, Mithika Linturi says that last year, Kenya imported a total of 720,000 MT of crude and ready to use vegetable oil valued at Sh98.9 billion, thus ranking the edible oil as one of the country’s most important imports after petroleum.

“Development of edible oil is low and at varying stages with households dedicating an estimated 30 percent of their incomes to edible oils. This Country can achieve self-sufficiency and import substitution through increased production of oil crops such as sunflower, canola, soya bean and coconut”, Mithika said.

He explained that the Government through the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) formulated the EOCPP five-year project that commenced on 1st July 2023 and plans to be completed on 30th June 2028 with activities involving collaboration with state departments, agencies and County Governments.

“The project is a Sh981 million project co-funded by the National Treasury to a tune of Sh400 million (41 percent) and AFA- Nuts and Oil Crops Directorate, the lead agency investing Sh581 million (59 percent) from its internally generated funds,” Mithika noted.

The CS urged the 34 County governments involved in the project to mobilise farmers for planting of the seed and support with appropriate extension services to ensure high productivity per unit area.

The seeds, including fertilisers for planting sunflowers, will be accessed by farmers through the Presidential Economic Transformation Secretariat (PETS) and the National Cereals Board (NCPB).

Agriculture and Food Authority(AFA) last year in October announced plans to increase Kenya’s edible oil production from five to fifty percent in the next five years. The authority attributed the high imports of 95 percent to low production despite the country having a great potential in the region.

Courtesy; KNA

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