Kenya dissolves cereals board 2009-01-26 19:00:53   Print

    NAIROBI, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government on Monday dissolved the National Cereals and Produce Board (NGPB) after carrying out an audit on its operations and structure.

    Agriculture Minister William Ruto said the board managers have been sent home and four new members of the board have been named.

    "Accordingly, the board of directors has been reconstituted by replacing all its members. The new board members are: Dr. Andrian Wekulo, Elias Barre, Rozaah Akinyi, Mohammed Islam and Timothy Kipkorir," Ruto said in a statement.

    He has also announced that the board's top level management has been reduced from 14 to four. The board has been at the center of a 825 million shilling (about 10.3 million U.S. dollars) maize scandal as at least 10 million Kenyans are now facing starvation.

    "The ministry of agriculture expects a speedy conclusion of the said investigations so that appropriate actions may be taken without undue delay," Ruto said.

    The minister said the newly appointed chairman of the Board Jimnah Mbaru is not affected since he is a presidential appointee, adding that the measures are a product of an audit carried out since October last year..

    Kenyans have accused the NCPB of corruption in the purchase of the already scarce maize. The Kenya Anti Corruption Commission is investigating the claims.

    "The foregoing actions do not in any way whatsoever absolve any member who is connected to any misconduct from responsibility and action to be taken against them as a result of the ongoing investigations," Ruto said.

    Kenya's food crisis has been blamed on underproduction by small-scale farmers, climate change and disruption of the main planting season following last year's post-election crisis.

    Some 10 million Kenyans need food aid because of shortages and the government has appealed for emergency funds to deal with the matter.

    The UN World Food Program (WFP) said on Thursday it will increase food aid to 3.2 million hungry Kenyans who are facing food crisis.

    Last week, WFP spokeswoman Gabrielle Menezes told journalists in Nairobi that the UN agency plans to provide food aid for 3.2 million adults and infants and 850,000 school students.

    Menezes said the organization is currently carrying out an assessment in the affected parts to determine the extent of the famine and drought that has left about 10 million people or more starving.

    Two weeks ago, President Mwai Kibaki appealed for 463 million U.S. dollars aid to tackle the emergency food crisis in Kenya where millions likely go to bed hungry due to crop failure and 2007 political turmoil.

    Kenya, the East Africa's biggest economy, is still recovering from the 2007 post- election violence which left over a thousand people dead. The country was one of the first to be hit by riots as a result of hikes in food prices last year.

Editor: Zhang Mingyu
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