The High Court has temporarily suspended the decision by the Kenya government to contract Zambian farmers to grow maize for exclusive exportation to Kenya.
High Court Judge Mugure Thande issued the order stopping Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi to move on with the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Kenya and
Zambia to produce maize in Zambia for export to Kenya.
Justice Thande issued the orders in a petition where the Farmers Party of Kenya moved to the High Court and filed a case against the government over its decision to contract the country's farmers to carry out large-scale cultivation of maize for export to Kenya.
"After considering the principles for grant of conservatory orders at the exparte stage, I find
that the orders sought in the application are merited. Accordingly, I do grant prayer two of the application," Justice Thande ruled.
Under the Certificate of Urgency filed on Wednesday, April 12, 2023, the party avers that the decision by the government of Kenya to contract foreign farmers was “unreasonable, irrational, and illegal and in
gross violation of the Constitution of Kenya.”
Through their Lawyer Chege & Sang Co Advocates, Farmers Party, led by Irungu Nyakera argued that the decision where the two governments are supposed to enter into a contractual agreement where Zambia farmers would grow maize solely for export to Kenya is tantamount to an admission of dereliction of duty by CS Linturi and by extension the government to support and provide enabling infrastructure for Kenyan farmers to produce food locally.
The judge also ordered the matter to come up for mention on May 16, 2023.
The party argues in the petition that it is illogical for the Kenya government to engage the Republic of Zambia to produce Maize for Kenya whilst Zambia is struggling with a similar challenge and importing maize to satisfy the demands of its citizenry.
Maize shortage in Zambia
This was after Linturi announced that Kenya is contracting Zambian farmers to grow maize exclusively for the Kenyan market.
“Kenya will be signing a contract with local farmers in Zambia in the next one month that will see them grow maize for export to the Kenyan market,” Linturi said.
However, Zambia's Finance Minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane said that the country had a deficit of grain, hence could not export maize to Kenya.
“I think we all know that there has been a shortage of maize, especially in border areas near Tanzania, Congo and Malawi. In the most immediate response, the government decided that we allow importation to supplement whatever we have so that shortages can be alleviated,” Dr Musokotwane told The East African.