29 January 2014

Kenya Warns of Looming Food Crisis

Photo: Lauren Everitt/AllAfrica
Grain (file photo).

Nairobi — The government on Wednesday warned of a looming food crisis in parts of the country starting June this year.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei said stocks are running out, and urged the private sector to intervene and help mitigate the crisis.

"Concerning the food crisis that is bound to hit the country in June or July, there are several measures that have been taken but first and foremost we are studying the situation."

"Most of the statistics are estimates for now and this is because people have different consumption levels."

"We however encourage the private stakeholders to import food and farmers to plant short span crops that will be used to sustain the people during the period," urged Koskei.

He added that the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) is currently purchasing maize from the long rains harvests and this stock would also be used to assist during the crisis.

"The NCPB have purchased 653,000 bags of maize bringing the stocks to 2,853,000 bags."

"Also purchased is beans and wheat which will be distributed," he assured.

The Cabinet Secretary however downplayed reports that there is a food shortage in Turkana currently, instead blaming the county government for not delivering food to affected areas.

"In Turkana I want to be very clear and say that there is no shortage of food, it has already been delivered to the different counties from the strategic grain reserves.'

"The problem is that the county governments are yet to reach the people with the food that they have received," he explained.

He added that long term interventions have been put in place and they would gradually be implemented to avert future cases of food shortage.

"The ministry is holding negotiations with two prequalified bidders to start a fertilizer manufacturing plant; the first phase is expected to be completed in 2016."

"The agricultural mechanization will enable Kenyan farmers to feed not only themselves but also the country's growing population," he added.

Koskei also revealed that the Indonesian government had donated 10 walking tractors to promote farm mechanization.

"The tractors are already at the Embakasi inland terminal and awaiting clearance," he said.

There have been reports of severe hunger in Turkana after a woman was arrested last week for roasting two dogs to feed her children.

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