18 June 2017

Kenya: Future of Food Situation to Improve as Prices Decline

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett has said that the national food security situation is expected to gradually improve from mid-June as harvesting has already began in some parts of the country.

Mr Bett said that the government recognised that Kenya is fighting food crisis, but said that prices of major household goods have been stabilising, with most expected to decline further as harvesting picks up.

He disclosed that the national maize, wheat, beans and rice balance sheets indicated that only maize would not be adequate to sustain the country into the next harvest season; it shows that only a surplus of 4.9 million bags were available.

"Bean prices are stabilising at almost normal prices of between Sh5,800 and Sh7,000 per 90kg bag and prices [are] expected to decline further as harvesting will pick up by end of the month, and should improve with the supplies," Mr Bett said.

Black beans (njahi) for example have moved up from Sh8,000 per 90kg bag to Sh10,800, between December and last month.


He also said that the national government had mapped out logistics for imported maize to ensure there are no delays at the Mombasa port; with Kenya Ports Authority opening other parts of the facility, aside from the grain berths, to be used in offloading.

However, he said that drought and food insecurity in some parts of the country are still critical.

The CS said that a mid-season assessment done in May attributes the slow recovery to poor seasonal rains.

"The situation is critical, particularly in nine arid counties: Isiolo, Wajir, Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Garissa, Mandera, Baringo, and parts of Kitui," he said.

He was speaking in Delta Towers in Nairobi in a meeting attended by Council of Governors chairperson Josephat Nanok and County Executives in charge of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.


He said that the national government would work together with county governments to develop a strategy to avert future food crises in the country.

As a way of preventing such problems, he said the government in May finalised a policy giving county governments control over the small irrigation schemes within their regions, while the national government runs mega irrigation projects such as Galana-Kulalu.

"[The] national government [is] committed to working with county governments to develop a strategy to avert future food crises.

"The policy to ensure that this is implemented was finalised [on] May 2017," he said.


Additionally, he said, late planting, occasional dry spell, and damage to crops by Fall Armyworm will see the drop in maize production of between 15-20 per cent, approximately.

Mr Bett said that the two governments are working to manage and stop the spread of the Armyworm.

In Trans Nzoia for instance, Governor Patrick Khaemba has aside Sh45 million for mitigation.

Counties affected by the pest include Nandi, Uasin Gishu and West Pokot.


Council of Governors chairman Nanok said the food crisis should never recur.

"The shortage of cereals is a problem that should have been anticipated earlier. We should not go through this [again] in future," he said.

Mr Bett advised Kenyans to also embrace other foods types.


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