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I’m still boss at food reserve board, says Noah Wekesa

Sunday May 24 2020
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Former Cabinet minister Noah Wekesa who has maintained that he is still the chairman of the Strategic Food Reserve board. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JAMES MURIMI

Former Cabinet minister Noah Wekesa has maintained that he is still the chairman of the Strategic Food Reserve (SFR) board.

This comes after National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani disbanded the board by revoking the Public Finance Management (Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund) Regulations, 2015, which created the SFR Trust Fund.

"The Public Finance Management (Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund) Regulations, 2015 are revoked," Mr Yatani said in a gazette notice dated April 14.

But Dr Wekesa said the national granary is still fully-fledged and has set aside adequate funds to cushion Kenyans from starvation during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

STILL TEAM LEADER

"The government knows that I have been spearheading the Strategic Food Reserve board and I am still leading the team. I want to assure Kenyans that the government, through the board, has set aside enough money that will be spent to curb food shortage in the country," Dr Wekesa told journalists at Nanyuki DEB Primary School on Saturday.

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"President Uhuru Kenyatta's administration has ensured that Kenyans will not perish out of hunger and that the pandemic is well tackled to avert deaths. Food security is one of the President's key pillars that will ensure that Kenyans do not starve during these difficult times," he added.

Dr Wekesa accompanied Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi in inspecting the distribution of foodstuffs to vulnerable families at various centres in Nanyuki.

AL LOGGERHEADS

The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) has been at loggerheads with SFR, claiming that the agency owes it millions of shillings for services such as buying and storage of strategic maize.

Dr Wekesa had earlier faulted the move to disband the board, arguing that the decision was not in the best interests of the country.

"The decision to disband SFR is largely seen as a plan by some people to mismanage the funds that we have in our accounts," he said in an earlier interview.

SFR has at least Sh10 billion in its account arising from the sales of maize that it has been selling to millers and other institutions from its stores.

FOOD FOR FAMILIES

The Laikipia County government plans to spend Sh264.5 million to provide the stay home care package that will last 40,000 households for two months during the coronavirus pandemic.

The county administration has embraced mobile phone technology in giving foodstuffs to the vulnerable households in order to adhere to the social distancing regulations stipulated by the Ministry of Health.

The county government, in partnership with well-wishers, has developed the Lisha Familia programme for easier and fair distribution of food support to the targeted households.

Beneficiaries have been issued with electronic vouchers on their mobile phones which they are required to redeem at designated collection centres.

“We are doing this so that only the targeted beneficiaries get the support. We will not require brokers to come up with lists of their beneficiaries as it has been in the past. We are using verified data collected scientifically to adhere to the social distancing rule,” Mr Muriithi said.

Dr Wekesa lauded the Laikipia government and urged other counties to embrace technology to enhance transparency and curb the spread of Covid-19.

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