High Court Justice Muguru Thande on Friday, April 14, temporarily halted Kenya's deal with Zambia to produce maize for export to Kenya.
The judge made the ruling following a petition challenging the deal filed by Kenya Kwanza coalition-affiliated The Farmers Party headed by Irungu Nyakera.
He directed that all responses to the petition and application be filed and served before May 2, 2023, and set date for the matter mentioned on May 16, 2023.
"After considering the principles for grant of conservatory orders at the exparte stage, I find that the orders in the application are merited," read part of the court ruling.
The ruling came after the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi and Attorney General Justin Muturi were sued by the Farmers Party.
According to the petitioners, it was an unreasonable, irrational, unlawful, and gross violation of the Constitution of Kenya for Linturi to engage Zambia to produce maize for Kenya.
Led by Irungu Nyakera, the party argued that the move was illogical since Zambia was also struggling with a similar challenge and was importing maize to satisfy the citizen's demand.
Farmers Party suggested that the government should enable Kenyans to grow food locally instead of outsourcing products such as maize.
They argued that with outsourcing, Kenyans especially farmers are sidelined and lose their livelihoods and by extension their right to life.
Notably, the new court ruling will hinder President William Ruto's plan to lower the cost of maize prices, which is one of the Head of State's main promises to Kenyans.
Ruto promised Kenyans that a 2-kg packet of maize flour would retail at a low of Ksh70 from a high of Ksh200 once he assumed office. The president also vowed that his administration will focus on production rather than consumption for sustainability.
On March 6, Agriculture CS met his Zambian counterpart Mtolo Phiri and signed the memorandum of understanding that was expected to realise food and nutrition security in Kenya.
"Based on the projections he shared with us, the farmers will be able to achieve the objective of bringing down the cost of unga because clearly, they got it right and there is something to learn from them," Linturi stated.
The maize from Zambia was to be sold in Kenya at a lower price than that offered by traders. One month later, Zambia was, however, also hit by a maize shortage prompting its government to lift subsidies on imported maize.