By David Mwenda
The last few days have been very complicated for the nation. The prices of food have been dropped but then again the shortage continues. Maize meal prices have gone down but still there is a huge problem. Though there is maize and millers can be able to process the flour.
The media has been having a field day especially yesterday when the opposition leader went out shopping for Unga. He made sure they have done some shopping to make sure the narrative has stuck that there is no maize flour in our shops. The media did a good job propelling these problems but still they have not brought out some issues which I would like to raise.
Here are some of the questions.
What is it going to take to solve this problem?
This is the first question that needs to be answered. The government has given a solution in solving the maize shortage. They proposed the importation of maize at 6 Billion with the first consignment arriving and ending as fast as it came into the country.
There are unanswered questions concerning about the handling of this food shortage. Was the importation of maize the only solution? Was there any other way of handling the issue such as bringing in making sure they have handled this issue. Was there no plan B in handling this issue and making sure they have supplied maize meal of each and every single Kenyan out there.
The media needs to focus on asking why there is no response in making sure maize goes to all parts of the country. They need to make sure that the government can be able to make sure that maize millers are supplying the maize to each and every single person in the country.
What really caused this maize shortage?
The shortage of maize is actually a question that seems to have escaped a journalist’s mind. Why did the shortage come right before the election and why is it that people are not able to understand how this happened yet the government claimed there was no maize shortage in the country.
There is some serious discrepancy as the food estimates given before and after the announcement has been announced. The opposition leader Raila Odinga has been very categorical in making sure that he has said that the shortage is manufactured but no one has failed to ask how he knows it is manufactured to benefit people in the political sphere. This is another question that is worth asking and they need to make sure the question has been answered by the government.
Is it high time the government looked for alternative?
The role of the media is to educate and set the agenda for the country. This is why I would advise editors to get out of their own way to set the agenda on food. More specifically, they need to start a conversation on alternative foods and stop making maize meal a big issue for Kenyans and start advocating for other meals. They need to involve people like nutritionists and agriculture experts in making sure Kenyans are familiar with other alternative foods they can use.