Kenyan’s dependence on wheat imports to continue
Kenya is expected to continue its dependence on wheat imports as the demand for the cereal is increasing at a rate faster as compared to domestic production, an industry official said on Friday.
Anthony Kioko, CEO of the Cereal Growers Association (CGA), told Xinhua in Nairobi that the east African nation has sufficient land to grow enough wheat to satisfy local demand.
“Land in the traditional wheat-growing areas is being converted into other uses or being subdivided and this affects wheat production,” Kioko said.
Data from the ministry of agriculture indicates that Kenya’s consumption stands at 900,000 tons per year against local production of 350,000 tons per annum.
According to the industry, Russia, Ukraine and South America remain the key source markets for Kenya’s wheat imports.
Kioko added that the bulk of domestic wheat production is produced by large and medium-scale farmers.
“We also have a lot of small scale production by farmers across the country,” he observed.
Kioko noted that the country has the potential to be self-sufficient in wheat as large scale farmers have embraced modern technology that makes their productivity equal to international standards.
He observed that Kenya also has ideal climatic conditions and expertise to expand local production which is currently concentrated in the Rift Valley region.
According to CGA, wheat is the second most important cereal crop in Kenya after maize and therefore the government should provide conditions where domestic production can compete with imports.
Kioko noted that rising household incomes as well as urbanization are the key drivers for increased consumption of wheat products.